New figures from Public Policy Polling show Alexi Giannoulias leading Mark Kirk by eight points in a hypothetical general-election showdown.
Giannoulias and Kirk are the front-runners in the Democratic and Republican Party primaries for Illinois's U.S. Senate seat, respectively. When PPP polled this question nine months ago, the two were in a dead heat.
Alexi's gains have come from within his own party. Whereas only 60% of Democrats supported him last spring, over 70% now say they'd vote for him over Kirk. Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, attributes Giannoulias's gains to the more hotly contested primary: "The increased visibility it's brought him with Democratic voters has him set up well for the fall campaign."
PPP also polled Kirk versus Giannoulias's rivals in the primary, Cheryle Jackson and David Hoffman. Both of them ran neck-and-neck with Kirk.
The poll also recorded the approval ratings of Illinois's current senators. Dick Durbin received 47% approval, while Roland Burris got only 14%, "the lowest PPP has ever measured for a Senator," according to a press release.
The questions were asked between January 22 and 25, 2010. Since that time, Giannoulias has been in some hot water over management of his family's bank, and it's unclear how that scandal will move the polls.