On Tuesday, one of Illinois’ top Republican fundraisers, Ron Gidwitz, called on Republican Senator Mark Kirk to step down rather than seek re-election in 2016. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released on Wednesday suggests that the embattled GOP Senator should take Gidwitz’s advice.
The PPP poll finds that just 25 percent of Illinois voters approve of Mark Kirk’s job performance, compared to 42 percent who disapprove. Kirk’s right wing grandstanding on the Iran deal has cost him support with all but the most extremely conservative voters in the state.
Kirk is disliked by every ideological category of voter, except those who identify as “very conservative”. With very conservative voters, Kirk sports a modestly positive 35-26 approval rating. However, liberal, moderate, and somewhat conservative voters all have a negative opinion of the Republican Senator. In a blue state like Illinois, placating only the most extreme right wing voters is a recipe for political suicide.
Kirk, however, seems intent on committing political suicide. Not only does he trail Democrat Tammy Duckworth in a hypothetical 2016 Senate race, but he is also hemorrhaging support from party leaders and fundraisers who view him as a political liability.
When major GOP fundraiser Ron Gidwitz urged Kirk to call it quits on Tuesday, he did so in no uncertain terms, stating:
His misstatements put him and the Illinois Republican Party in too much of a defensive position. I do not believe he will be a U.S. senator in 2017 and, at [the] top of the ticket, he could cause collateral damage (to other Republican candidates). I call on him to step aside and allow other Republicans to seek his seat.
Although Gidwitz later retracted his call for Kirk to quit, the damage had already been done. Gidwitz’s message was clear. He views Mark Kirk as a sure fire loser in 2016, and a drag on the Republican ticket. Illinois voters seem to agree that Kirk is a loser, and if he runs for re-election, that will become crystal clear in November of 2016.