Saturday, November 15, 2008

Illinois Senate: Jackson Pushes Puzzling Poll

By Nathan L. Gonzales

There is nothing wrong with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) positioning himself for President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat, which Obama plans to relinquish on Sunday. But his new poll portraying him as the frontrunner to replace Obama is worthless.

The Zogby International poll of 802 likely Illinois voters, conducted Nov. 5-6, showed Jackson leading a field of “candidates” with 21 percent. One media outlet subsequently described Jackson as the “statewide favorite to fill the seat.”

In reality, there is no race to replace Obama. And the only poll that matters is a survey of one person: Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). He will choose Obama’s successor, and it doesn’t matter what any of Illinois’ likely voters think.

Apparently, Jackson commissioned the poll in an attempt to pressure Blagojevich into picking him by showing a groundswell of support and to fend off criticism that he couldn’t hold the seat in the 2010 general election.

But Jackson’s poll is the equivalent of asking Americans who Obama should choose to be secretary of State and then deeming that person the frontrunner. Like the survey Jackson paid for, such a poll would be silly and worthless.

Even the numbers within Jackson’s poll aren’t particularly convincing. Jackson’s advantage likely stems from higher name identification. And he most likely has his father’s help with that. The survey shows that almost eight in 10 people in Illinois prefer someone else to replace Obama. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Of course, Blagojevich may end up picking Jackson. But this Zogby poll tells us nothing about Jackson’s chances and gives no insight into the appointment process.

This story first appeared on on November 13, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.