UPDATED 11:25 a.m. Thursday.
CHAMPAIGN — A poll of 400 likely voters in the 13th Congressional District gives Democrat David Gill a 36 percent to 30 percent lead over Republican Rodney Davis. Independent candidate John Hartman of Edwardsville drew a surprising 9 percent in the survey, even though he has spent virtually no money and devoted little time to campaigning.
The poll, taken Aug. 4-7 by Democratic pollster Victoria Research and Consulting, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. Few details of the poll, including the wording of questions, were disclosed Thursday morning by the Gill campaign.
In releasing the poll Thursday, the Gill campaign noted that Davis, a former aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus who was appointed the candidate by Republican county chairmen, "has made no progress at all since an earlier April poll" where he got 31 percent against Gill.
An earlier poll taken for Gill, however, shows that the Democrat may be losing support too. In the April poll Gill led Davis, 41 percent to 31 percent. That was taken even before Davis had become the Republican candidate.
Gill's campaign manager, Michael Richards, also noted that Davis "is an unknown quantity with four out of five voters in the district not recognizing his name at all."
Details of the polling were not made available early this morning, but a Gill campaign statement said that survey respondents gave the Democrat a 43 percent to 34 percent advantage in terms of "being on your side" and a 51 percent to 32 percent favorable rating in terms of fighting for the middle class.
But perhaps the most surprising finding was that Hartman, an Edwardsville businessman running as an independent, got 9 percent in the survey even though he has barely campaigned.
Hartman hasn't even filed a campaign disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission, while Davis' campaign reported having raised $440,844 and Gill having receipts of $428,245.
Hartman said this morning that he wasn't surprised by his showing.
"I think I've met about 8,000 people, when I was petitioning (to get on the election ballot) and I got very good feedback because I was an indepenedent. I was in Carrollton and I asked 20 people to sign my petition and 19 signed. In Litchfield I asked 26 people on the last day of my petition drive and all 26 signed it and wished me well. I know that this is a viable campaign."
In the feedback he has received, Hartman said, "They just said 'I'm going to vote for anybody who's not in there.'
"In this case we don't have an incumbent, but that's the mood. I heard that over and over again. 'We need fresh blood. You can't be as bad as they are.' That kind of stuff."
Gill, an emergency room physician from Bloomington, has run for Congress three times and lost every race to Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana. But that was in the old 15th Congressional District, a strong Republican area.
The new 13th District, which arcs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest, is considered more politically competitive, particularly in a presidential election year.
Davis, who lives in Taylorville, was chosen by county chairmen in the new district after Johnson decided not to run for a seventh term.
Davis spokesman Patrick Pfingsten issued the following statement: "David Gill's liberal agenda of raising taxes on everyone, opposing a balanced budget amendment, and proposing a single payer health care program that goes further than Obamacare is wildly out of step with the mainstream values of the 13th District. People have been responding to Rodney Davis' common sense plan to keep taxes low, rein in spending and reduce the national debt -- there will be a lot of polls during this race but the only one that matters is Election Day."
The Davis campaign has not released any polling data.