It'll be a while before the Democratic field to take on Illinois’ first-term Republican governor coalesces, and that means it'll probably be a while before we see any good polling featuring head-to-head matchups between the incumbent and actual challengers. But in the meantime, there's a new survey from Democratic pollster Anzalone Liszt Grove, taken on behalf of the American Heart Association, that pits Gov. Bruce Rauner against an unnamed "Democratic candidate" and finds him trailing by a painful 47-32 margin.
Now, as we always caution when polls test "generic Democrat" or "generic Republican," it's easy for these numbers to be inflated. Respondents get to imagine their most ideal Platonic form of a candidate, whereas in reality, parties nominate flawed people who wind up getting hammered by attack ads. And given Rauner's personal wealth (his net worth is reportedly $1 billion, and he already seeded his re-election campaign with $50 million), there will be no shortage of attacks.
But all caveats aside, 32 percent is still a rough place for any incumbent to be, especially a Republican running in a blue state where, thanks to decades of endemic corruption and governmental sclerosis, voters often seem to sour on their elected leaders. Interestingly, the Heart Association paid for this poll to gauge support for a tax on sugary drinks, which voters back 56-41; their original press release didn't even mention Rauner, but presumably they leaked the horserace data to demonstrate that the governor is even less popular than a proposed new tax.
Rauner's money, though, assures that this will be a difficult race no matter how it unfolds—or whom Democrats nominate. So far, three candidates are running, most prominent among them businessman Chris Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, but several others are considering. And with Rauner's position looking uncertain at best, the field may yet grow.