Donald Trump endorsed Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey in the party’s GOP primary for gubernatorial nomination on Saturday, and polls show he’s favored to win.
“Darren is just the right man to take on and defeat one of America’s worst governors,” Trump said at a rally in Mendon, Illinois, referring to Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, a consistent critic of the former president and of his Make America Great Again movement. The Illinois primary is on Tuesday.
Recent polls show Bailey is way ahead of his main Republican opponents. The current Real Clear Politics average of Illinois polls shows the state senator about 16.5 points ahead of his closest GOP rival. Bailey has the support of about 35 percent of likely Illinois GOP primary voters, compared to 18.5 percent supporting the more moderate Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. Jesse Sullivan, a venture capitalist, was in third place, averaging 11.5 percent.
The most recent poll for the Governor’s Race, conducted June 10-13 by the Trafalgar Group, shows Bailey 18 points clear. Thirty-eight percent of likely Republican primary voters supported the state senator. In second place, Irvin had 20 percent support, while Sullivan landed in third place with 12 percent.
The poll polled 1,075 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.
Before that Chicago Sun Times and WBEZ released results of a poll conducted June 6-7 using Public Policy Polling. The poll found Bailey at 32 percent, followed by Irvin at 17 percent and Sullivan at 11 percent. That, too, was a double-digit lead for the Trump-backed candidate — a 15-point lead over Irvin.
The poll polled 677 likely voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.
While Trump’s endorsements have more often than not succeeded this primary season, his endorsement of gubernatorial nominees has had somewhat mixed results. Trump’s preferred candidates won their Republican primaries in Texas, Pennsylvania and Nevada. They lost in Idaho and Georgia. The Illinois race looks like another likely win for Trump, according to the polls.
Meanwhile, Pritzker appears in a strong position to win re-election against either Bailey or any of the Republican candidates. A poll conducted by Victory Research in late January found that the governor is well over 20 points ahead of all GOP candidates. Pritzker led Bailey by 28 points.
The Democrat had the support of 55 percent of likely voters, compared to just 27 percent who backed Bailey. In addition, more than half (about 52 percent) of respondents said they believed Pritzker deserved another term as governor. The poll polled 1,208 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.82 percent.
While Illinois, and particularly its largest city Chicago, is generally considered liberal, the pre-Pritzker governor was a Republican. Bruce Rauner served from 2015 to 2019, but when running for re-election, he lost to Pritzker by a double-digit margin.
The state has also campaigned for Democratic presidential candidates in every election since 1992. Both Illinois senators are also Democrats.