Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-1681

January 17, 2007

Obama presidential bid popular in Illinois, says NIU poll

DeKalb — U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s announcement Tuesday that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee was welcome news to most in his home state, according to a recent survey by Northern Illinois University.

The survey found that 54 percent of adult Illinois residents favor the idea of an Obama bid for the White House. Only 15 percent were opposed to the idea, while 30 percent had no opinion. The survey was conducted from mid-November 2006 until Jan. 1, 2007.

“When you consider that, among those who expressed an opinion, four times as many favored the idea as opposed it -- that is a substantial level of support,” says Michael Peddle, a professor of public administration who oversaw the survey along with NIU political scientist Barbara Burrell.

Geographically speaking, support for an Obama presidential run was strongest in Chicago (57 percent) and suburban Cook County (60 percent) and was at about 50 percent everywhere else, except in southern Illinois where only 40 percent supported the idea.

Support was strongest among voters age 18-34 (65 percent), while about half of all those between the ages of 35 and 64 supported the idea. Only among those 65 and older did less than a majority (40 percent) favor the idea. “That could be an important finding,” says Peddle. “It indicates that he has the potential to energize the youth vote, and that could be key.”

Not surprisingly, an Obama presidential bid got overwhelming support from Democrats (67 percent). However, nearly 60 percent of Independents and almost one-third (31 percent) of self-described Republicans also favored the idea.

“The number of Republicans favoring the idea was notable. I think that shows some fairly strong bi-partisan support,” Peddle says.

“Based on these results, it is fairly clear that the people of Illinois would support Obama if he decides to throw his hat in the ring,” he adds, pointing out that home states do not always support their favorite son. “If you look back as recently as the 2000 elections, Al Gore didn’t carry Tennessee.”

The question regarding an Obama presidential candidacy was part of NIU’s annual Illinois Policy Survey conducted by the Center for Governmental Studies, which is part of NIU’s Regional Development Institute. Researchers contacted 1,242 Illinois residents over the age of 18. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. The survey has been conducted annually since 1984. More complete results will be published later this year.

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