The Daily Caller reported on a poll today that gave a rather remarkable result: it showed Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney 49 to 37... in Cook County, Illinois: which of course includes the City of Chicago. Being under 50% in what can be considered the ultimate Democratic stronghold is not good news for the President. In 2008 Cook County went for Obama over McCain 67/32; in 2010 it went for Quinn over Brady 54/40... which helped make the difference from Obama's blowout 62/37 win statewide in 2008, and Quinn's squeaker 47/46 win in 2010. Put another way: if this poll is accurate, Obama's got trouble in Illinois.
Since this report has been making the rounds of the Internet, I thought that I'd look into it a bit. It turns out the poll comes from McKeon & Associates, which has been polling in Illinois since at least the 1980s. A quick call to Michael McKeon got me access to the poll itself, which I'll be talking about after the fold.
OK, to start: poll of 629 registered voters, not commissioned for a specific campaign (they were looking at something else, saw an interesting development, and went back to get a full survey). Notable breakdowns: 49/51 Chicago/Suburbs, 48/30/22 Democratic/Independent/Republican, 48/52 male/female, 62/24/10 White/Black/Hispanic. Independents [break] for Romney 43/31; but what's really hurting Obama in this poll are his undecideds. He's winning Democrats 79/8... and African-American voters 70/5, with the remainder being undecided. Now, before anyone objects; I don't expect that one quarter of the Chicago African-American electorate is going to end up pulling the lever for Romney in November. However, that doesn't mean that they're going to end up pulling the lever for Obama, either. In fact, they may not end up pulling a lever at all.
All in all, this poll will not cause anybody to suddenly declare Illinois to be a swing state, nor should it; Barack Obama has a home-field advantage here, and even a campaign team as maladroit as his is should be able to bring in the win. But it is nonetheless not a good poll for Obama, largely because it argues that the Democratic enthusiasm gap seen elsewhere is very, very real. Even in Illinois.
Moe Lane (crosspost)