How bad are things for the Illinois Republican Party these days? According to this Chicago Tribune poll, they're really really really bad.
Together, the surveys paint a portrait of a Republican Party so divided that it may have trouble fielding statewide candidates with sufficiently broad appeal to prevail in general elections for years to come. Republicans make up only 28 percent of Illinois voters, compared with 43 percent who identify themselves as Democrats and 27 percent as independents, according to the broader survey.
The Republican poll is based on a survey of 386 registered Illinois voters who consider themselves members of the GOP and likely to vote on Election Day. The poll was conducted Sept. 14-20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
The other poll, which surveyed 700 likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. That poll was conducted Sept. 17-20.
After Republican primary winner Jack Ryan dropped out of the U.S. Senate race, the party struggled to find a replacement and finally settled on [Alan] Keyes. One hope was that the selection of an African-American to take on [Barack] Obama, who is black, would make a statement about the GOP's commitment to diversity.
But the survey showed that 94 percent of voters who identified themselves as Republicans are white, and only 2 percent are Hispanic and another 2 percent are black. The rest declined to identify their race.
The separate poll of likely voters regardless of party affiliation showed that 68 percent favored Obama for senator and just 17 percent backed Keyes. Last month, the gap was 65-24.
The broader survey shows that Keyes has failed to draw much support from independents. But the Republican-only poll demonstrates that he also has not locked up strong backing from fellow Republicans.
Only 44 percent of self-identified GOP voters said they intended to support Keyes, and 35 percent said they planned to vote for Obama. That contrasts with the 89 percent of Republicans who vowed to support the re-election of President Bush.
Keyes contends that Obama is too extreme on the issues for Illinois, but the Republican survey shows only 21 percent of GOP voters agreed. At the same time, 38 percent of Republicans thought Keyes was too extreme.
Meanwhile, 39 percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Obama while just 31 percent think favorably of Keyes.