Nine months into his four-year tenure, J.B. Pritzker is standing tall in the public’s eye
Illinois may not be flying high in its standing with the public, but Gov. JB. Pritzker is.
A new poll — dubbed the Illinois Issues Survey — conducted by the University of Illinois-Springfield Survey Research Office shows that nearly six out of 10 state residents have a positive view of how Pritzker is conducting himself as governor.
The positive opinion of Pritzker seems to be rubbing off in terms of how residents view the state. Although a solid majority of residents (56 percent) say Illinois continues to move in the wrong direction, fewer people say that now than they did a year ago.
The UIS poll revealed that 28 percent of the public says Illinois is headed in the right direction, up from just 14 percent a year ago.
The issues survey was conducted from Sept. 13-23 and sampled the opinion of 1,012 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Here are a couple important reminders about polls.
They represent a snapshot of public opinion.
Poll results can shift dramatically in response to events, hence the phrase that a week in politics can seem like a lifetime.
Nonetheless, Pritzker’s standing appears to be reflective of his relatively successful, even though brief, tenure as governor.
A Democrat, Pritzker has gotten along well with the Democrat-dominated Legislature, even drawing support from some Republicans on some issues.
That has resulted in a productive collaboration between governor and Legislature on a variety of issues, including legalization of marijuana, gambling expansion and a doubling of the state’s gasoline tax to support a state building program.
That list barely scratches the surface of the Pritzker/Legislature bill-passing frenzy that took place earlier this year.
People may have conflicting opinions about the wisdom of all the bills that Pritzker has signed into law. But the comity surrounding the legislative process is a far cry from the relentless struggle in which former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner engaged with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan from 2015 to 2019.
Pritzker’s positive numbers ran across the board. He won favorable marks from men and women who are from Cook County, northeast Illinois and downstate.
He also received positive support from whites, blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups.
Somewhat in conflict with Pritzker’s strong numbers were equally strong numbers that reflect pessimism about the state of the state.
Not only does a strong majority of the public believe Illinois is headed in the wrong direction, 61 percent of respondents said they have considered moving out of the state over the past year. Two primary reasons for moving were identified as high taxes and state government and its policies.
Those conflicting opinions are, to a degree, understandable.
Political conflict in Springfield breeds discontent. With Democrats in charge across the board, there is not nearly the discord as there was when power was divided.
At the same time, the state’s economy is relatively strong, with the national unemployment rate at an all-time low and plenty of jobs available to those who want them.
At the same time, however, the sword of Damocles is hanging over Illinois in terms of financial problems that border on the unsolvable. The state is not only effectively bankrupt, it faces huge budget, pension and debt problems. But those problems are, for the most part, not on people’s radars but abstractions that have yet to hit home with gale force.
So it’s out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. At least that’s what the recent poll shows.