After being thumped in New Hampshire last week by Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton returned to Illinois on Wednesday only to see that her edge over the Vermont senator has eroded.
A February 11 survey commissioned by The Illinois Observer's e-newsletter, The Insider, of 560 likely Democratic primary voters finds that Clinton leads Sanders 57.9 percent - 24.5 percent. 18.6 percent were undecided. Among women, Clinton leads 57.9 percent - 21.4 percent with 20.7 percent. The gap between the two candidates closes slightly among men, 57.0 percent - 27.9 percent. 15.1 percent were undecided.
The automated poll, conducted on February 11 by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry, had a +/- 4.23 percent margin of error.
While Clinton can bag bragging rights for a 33-point advantage, her lead over Sanders has shrunk 8-points since fall, dropping from a 65.7 percent - 19.5 percent edge in an October 24, 2015 Ogden & Fry poll commissioned by The Insider of 595 Democratic primary voters. In that survey, ex-Governor Martin O'Malley was still in the race and he took 1 percent. 13.8 percent were undecided.
Nevertheless, her current score is nearly identical to the 59.8 percent lead she held one-year ago in a February 14, 2015 Ogden & Fry poll. In that survey, Clinton was paired against U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (13.7 percent), Vice President Joe Biden (11.9), and O'Malley (1.3 percent). "Someone else" took 13.8 percent.
Her current slippage in Illinois also corresponds to a lackluster general election match-up in Illinois against Donald Trump, which according to a January 9, 2016 Ogden & Fry poll, she leads the reality TV star 36.5 percent - 27.5 percent. 36.0 percent were undecided.
Clinton came to Chicago for a "get-out-the-vote" event in the City's Bronzeville neighborhood, aiming to rally African-American voters. This was Clinton's second visit to Bronzeville since announcing her candidacy. Last year, she held a roundtable with child care workers to discuss child care costs and paid family leave.
In her recent Milwaukee debate against Sanders, Clinton demonstrated that she wasn't shy about taking a swipe at that state's GOP Governor, Scott Walker, saying, "Sen. Sanders' [higher education] plan rests on governors like Scott Walker contributing $23 billion on the first day. I'm a little skeptical about your governor actually caring enough about higher education to make any kind of commitment like that."
Amid Illinois' current budget stalemate, Clinton, who grew up in suburban Park Ridge, sought to score local points by also going after Governor Bruce Rauner, who is deeply unpopular in Chicago.
"The governor has refused to start budget negotiations unless his so-called 'turnaround agenda' gets passed first," said Clinton. "Now, his plan will turn Illinois around, all right. All the way back to the time of the robber barons of the 19th century."
But Rauner spokesman Lance Trover punched back noting that Clinton's remarks were "quite ironic, coming from someone who cashed a $280,000 check for a paid speech to GTCR less than two years ago."
It's that type of unwelcome irony that's undermining Clinton's campaign against Sanders in Illinois and elsewhere.
David also edits The Illinois Observer: The Insider, in which this article first appeared.