According to the poll Democratic State Senator Debbie Halvorson has an 11 point lead over GOP businessman Martin Ozinga. While the questions weren’t released, in a district that’s been Republican for a long, long time that strikes me as impressive.
The Ozinga campaign has countered the impressive news with the following criticisms:
“Shouldn’t Senate Majority Leader Halvorson be leading by more than 11 points against someone who was a private citizen two months ago?
She’s been in this race for several months – Marty’s been in it for several weeks.
She’s been an elected official in this district for 15 years.
She’s arguably the most powerful woman in Illinois.
She’s the quasi-incumbent in this race.
So the fact that she’s well under 50 percent with all of those initial advantages – and before our campaign has spent one dime on paid media – makes me question why she released these numbers as if they were good news.”
Color me unconvinced by the Ozinga campaign’s arguments – here’s what I’m thinking point by point.
Ozinga is a “[p]rivate citizen” who has been in the race only “several weeks?”
Martin Ozinga’s cement business, the only supplier to Chicago, is pretty visible (the red and white trucks are not only on the roads – they’re at school events too) and he is not only politically active, a major campaign donor, and connected himself, but Ozinga comes from a local political family including his father and his uncle, who was a congressman. In short, Martin Ozinga is an active, notable public figure even though he wasn’t in office or (until recently) running for office.
Debbie Halvorson has “been an elected official in this district for 15 years.”
Actually Debbie’s been an elected state senator in the 40th District – which is in the 11th Congressional District – but is far from encompassing the congressional district. Does that mean Debbie has served residents of the congressional district and knows them? Yes. Does it mean that Debbie has to meet a lot of residents she’s never served? Yes. Debbie’s got an advantage in her senatorial experience, there’s no doubt, but it’s hardly the advantage of knowing everyone in the congressional district.
Debbie Halvorson is “arguably the most powerful woman in Illinois [and]…[s]he’s the quasi-incumbent in this race.”
There’s no doubt Debbie is one of the more powerful women in Illinois (I’d also include Lisa Madigan among other elected officials) – but power in this sense isn’t necessarily the same as name recognition, which matters in polls. Truthfully, how many average Illinois residents are likely to be able to name their state senator (and I’m saying both parties, and throughout the state)? Debbie Halvorson hasn’t served as a higher name recognition congresswoman, but as a state senator. Additionally, Debbie hasn’t represented a big chunk (possibly a majority of the land mass and maybe the voters) of the district. Those are two big differences – she’s not the incumbent in the way the Ozinga campaign suggests.
Polling “before [the Ozinga]campaign has spent one dime on paid media?”
Well, perhaps technically – but it is interesting how Ozinga’s namesake cement supply company started radio ads around February. Very interesting.
In the end we’re left with Democrat Debbie Halvorson, a state senator in part of the district, running against Republican Martin Ozinga, a businessman with political connections and some long-time name recognition, in a traditionally Republican congressional district. Does it sound like Debbie Halvorson’s initial 11 point polling lead in this GOP-leaning district is pretty good? With the caveat that it’s still early, yes, it sounds pretty good.