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Race For Obama's Former Senate Seat A Dead Heat In Recent Poll

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Democrat Alexi Giannoulias has closed a narrow gap with Republican Mark Kirk in a hypothetical showdown between the current frontrunners for President Obama's former Senate seat, a new Rasmussen poll finds.

The Democratic state treasurer and the Republican Congressman tied with 41 percent support in the latest Rasmussen Reports Illinois phone poll of 500 likely voters released Monday. Another 4 percent said they intend to support some other candidate, and 13 percent were undecided.

Women prefer Giannoulias over Kirk 43 percent to 38 percent, while men prefer Kirk 45 percent to 39 percent. And especially important for a race that both parties expect to be close, independents favor Kirk over Giannoulias by a two-to-one margin, 52 percent to 23 percent. Giannoulias campaign told the Sun-Times' Carol Marin that its internal polling shows the Democrat five points ahead of Kirk.

Rasmussen conducted its phone survey of 500 likely Illinois voters on Oct. 14. There is a 4.5 percent margin of error.

A Rasmussen poll done in August showed Kirk leading Giannoulias 41 percent to 38 percent.

The same poll showed 17 percent undecided in August, a number that dropped to 13 percent in the same period that Giannoulias gained 3 percentage points. The percentage who said they intend to vote for some other candidate stayed consistent between the two polls at 4 percent.

Kirk and Giannoulias far outpace the rest of the field in both fundraising and name recognition. Kirk raised way more money than his GOP primary opponent Patrick Hughes in the latest fundraising period -- $1.6 million versus $380,000.

Former Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Robinson Jackson, a former Blagojevich spokeswoman who on Monday won the backing of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, narrowed the gap in a head-to-head with Kirk to four points -- 43 percent to 39 percent. Kirk led Jackson by 17 points in August.

Polled Independent voters, however, picked Kirk over Jackson 52 percent to 19 percent.

Kirk also leads another Democratic hopeful, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, 43 percent to 33 percent.

In what could be a promising sign for Hoffman, 16 percent are undecided in a match-up with Kirk, the highest undecided percentage in any of the three polled scenarios. The survey did not include how Hoffman fares against Kirk with independents. More respondents said they had no opinion of Hoffman (48 percent) than any other candidate.

Neither the new Rasmussen poll nor the one done in August included Chicago attorney Jacob Meister, a fourth Democratic candidate.

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