Over 50 percent of registered voters in southern Illinois gave Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a negative job approval rating in a poll released Monday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
In the poll of 401 registered voters from 18 southern Illinois counties, Rauner garnered a 37.4 percent approval and 50.7 percent disapproval rating. Nearly 12 percent of poll respondents had no opinion about Rauner's job performance.
"[T]hough Democrats and Republicans are evenly distributed in our southern Illinois sample, this is still a conservative area, and one might have thought of it as fertile ground for Gov. Rauner," Charlie Leonard, a visiting professor at the institute and a supervisor of the poll, said in a statement. "For his approval ratings to be 'upside down' in southern Illinois this early in his administration may not bode well for the pro-business agenda he's been trying to push."
The poll also explored job approval ratings for Illinois U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D) and Mark Kirk (R), the latter of whom is up for re-election in 2016.
Kirk's approval rating was at 30.4 percent. Nearly 23 percent of poll respondents disapproved of Kirk's job performance, while 46.6 percent had no opinion about the Republican.
Durbin received a 50.6 percent approval and 33.5 percent disapproval rating. Sixteen percent of poll respondents had no opinion about Durbin.
Additionally, the poll found that 80 percent of registered southern Illinois voters "think the state and the nation are headed in the wrong direction," while "fewer than 15 percent think Illinois and the U.S. are on the right track."
"Voters here have been in a bad mood and they continue to be," said the institute's Director David Yepsen. "The only surprise is how many people don't have an opinion about Senator Kirk. For a statewide Republican incumbent to have such ambivalent ratings down here isn't a good sign for him as he heads into a tough re-election campaign. He needs to be running well in this area to offset Democratic strengths elsewhere in the state."
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.