07/15/2011 02:17 pm ET | Updated Sep 14, 2011

Tammy Duckworth Leads Raja Krishnamoorthi Big In Poll Of Illinois' 8th District

According to a poll released by the campaign of Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, she holds a commanding lead early on in the race for the Democratic nomination for Congress.

Duckworth is running in Illinois's 8th District, one of several districts that, thanks to a Democratically-led redistricting, is looking very likely to turn blue in 2012. She's facing a primary challenge from Raja Krishnamoorthi, a candidate who's run for statewide office before and has locked down sizable campaign cash and endorsements from some local heavyweights.

But according to the poll, Krishnamoorthi's got a steep hill to climb. The survey gives Duckworth a lead of 69 percent to 8 percent, and a number of more detailed findings paint an even more favorable picture for Duckworth.

As a former Congressional candidate herself, Duckworth is way out-pacing Krishnamoorthi in name recognition, with 76 percent of voters polled knowing her name compared to 15 percent knowing Raja. But even among those voters who knew both, Duckworth led 54-32.

What if Krishnamoorthi is able to use his early fundraising to get his name out there? Well, the pollster, Normington Petts, gave voters a very favorable blurb about Krishnamoorthi, to simulate an extensive and successful communications campaign on his part. The Capitol Fax obtained a copy of the message:

Raja Krishnamoorthi, age 37, is the President of Sivananthan Laboratories, a high tech company specializing in national security and renewable energy products. Before that, he was the Deputy Treasurer for Illinois where he helped revamp the state’s unclaimed property system and ran the technology venture capital fund, which has helped create hundreds of good-paying jobs in Illinois. Last year he ran for State Comptroller. Raja served as issues director for Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 and as an advisor to his presidential campaign. He is raising his kids right here in the district. As the only candidate with private sector experience creating jobs, Raja will focus on economic growth and putting people back to work. He says that is the only way we can really put the government’s fiscal house in order and keep our commitments to educate our kids and take care of seniors. Raja wants to bring common sense and practical problem solving to Washington D.C. — not mindless, hyperpartisan politics based on rigid ideologies.

Even after hearing this message about Krishnamoorthi, Duckworth still maintained a sizable lead, 60 percent to 21 percent.

"It seems likely that the only way Krishnamoorthi could narrow the race would be to launch a series of negative attacks against Duckworth," the pollster hypothesizes. "Not only would these be unlikely to succeed given the high esteem in which voters hold Duckworth, but these attacks would damage Democrats’ chance to pick up this lean Democratic seat."

Lynn Sweet, Washington correspondent for the Chicago Sun-Times, received a response from the Krishnamoorthi camp. His staff basically said that he's not going anywhere:

We are not surprised that a poll released by the Duckworth campaign shows a favorable position for Tammy, but the reality is that any poll conducted 8 months before an election is based solely upon name recognition. In the State Comptroller race, Raja started with just 6% support and came within an eyelash of winning the Democratic statewide primary against a party-backed, well-funded state legislator with a great ballot name. Today, even with modest name recognition, Raja has quickly raised over $400,000 in 5 and a half weeks, and he has assembled a formidable base of political and grassroots support. The fundamental issue in this election is who has the private sector experience and ideas to help revive the economy and protect the middle class. On that issue, Raja will fare very well.

The Illinois primaries will be held on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.