CHICAGO
07/28/2010 12:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Giannoulias Leading Kirk In Latest Poll, But Some Numbers Spell Trouble For Dems

According to a Rasmussen poll released today, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias continues to lead Republican Mark Kirk in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat. The lead, however, is a very narrow one--and some believe that the support Kirk has from Independents could result in a Republican win this November.

Following the scandal surrounding the accuracy of his military record, Kirk began falling in the polls. The Rasmussen report released today shows that he has stopped slipping--but Giannoulias maintains a two point lead.

From the pollster:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Illinois finds Democrat Alexi Giannoulias with 43% support to Republican Mark Kirk's 41%. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and 10% are undecided.

When it comes to strong opinions about the race, however, Giannoulias is not looking very safe. Twenty five percent of voters have a "very unfavorable" view of the Democrat, while only 14 percent feel that way about Kirk. Also, voters not affiliated with either major party prefer the Kirk by nearly 20 points. (Check out the full poll here.)

"That big lead among independents is crucial and means that Kirk has a very good shot at winning this one, despite the toplines," Capitol Fax blogger Rich Miller wrote Wednesday. "Illinois has lots more Democrats than Republicans, but they're not a firm majority. Independents are a must-get. But moderates are also very important, and Giannoulias' lead is important there."

Though Kirk continues to lead Giannoulias in the cash race, Democrats hope an early August visit by President Obama can garner some more support for Alexi. In the next few days, Obama is headlining several Democratic fundraisers, but only one is tied to a specific candidate: Giannoulias.

"You've got Republican enthusiasm at a very high level," Obama's 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe told the Associated Press Tuesday. "I don't think it can go much higher. Democratic enthusiasm, obviously, is trailing and I really don't see it declining anymore, so the question is how much more can we grow it."

Plouffe, who has also been campaigning for Giannoulias, hopes the president's Chicago trip will energize local Democrats.