How is Pat Quinn this lucky? The Democratic Governor of Illinois might have the lowest approval rating in the country, with some polls showing him stuck in the twenties. Quinn’s rival for that title, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee, decided not to run for reelection after concluding he would have lost a Democratic country. For a while, it looked like Pat Quinn might face a similar primary challenge. He drew a primary challenge from former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, which one poll said could be a tight race. But now, Daley’s out of the picture, and suddenly Quinn looks like he could win reelection.
As recently as a few months ago, it looked like Quinn might have to defeat Lisa Madigan, the state’s popular attorney general, who led Quinn by a whopping 44 point margin in a November PPP survey. But in July, Madigan said she wouldn’t run—perhaps in part because her dad is the Speaker of the House, which might have represented a conflict of interest.
But Quinn still had to fend off former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley. He’s not nearly as popular as Madigan—in fact, that PPP poll found Daley’s favorability rating at minus-3 among Democratic primary voters—but he didn’t need to be. Quinn’s unpopular enough, and so Daley had a 3 point lead.
Luckily for Quinn, Daley is a former banking executive. And Democrats have a pretty decent blueprint for attacking candidates tied to the financial industry, which Quinn started to follow as soon as soon as Daley entered the race. Turns out Daley couldn’t handle it. Just seven weeks after Daley filed, he dropped out of the race—all but clearing the field for Quinn.
The general election is still a huge hurdle for Quinn. But Illinois is such a Democratic state that Quinn has a shot. There are plenty of Democrats who dislike Quinn, but who will vote for him against a Republican, and, in Illinois, that would mean a close race. Last November’s PPP poll showed Quinn trailing by a few points against various Republican candidates—but ahead against a few, too. A clear Democratic field will make it even easier for Quinn to consolidate Democratic support and raise money. And if he can do so, that would give America’s least popular governor a real chance to win reelection.