Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois' 2nd District is the favorite among possible replacements to fill the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a new Zogby telephone poll shows.This is spun as favorable news for Jackson, but I'm not so certain; having the support of 21 percent of Illinoisans is hardly a rousing consensus.
The survey, conducted Nov. 5-6, 2008, shows that, given a choice of 10 possible candidates, 21% think Gov. Rod Blagojevich should appoint Jackson to the seat when Obama leaves it vacant to ascend to the presidency, far more than the rest of the field. Tammy Duckworth, a former Democratic congressional candidate from a suburban Chicago district, is the only other potential candidate to win double-digit support -14% said she should be appointed.
In addition, we probably have to account for name recognition, since most of these candidates are pretty obscure. The Zogby poll says that 65 percent of Illinoisans are familiar with Jackson, so one way to read these numbers is that 32 percent of Illinoisans who know of Jackson have him as their top choice. By contrast, Tammy Duckworth's name recognition is just 40 percent. Among Illinoisans who are familiar with Duckworth, 35 percent have her as their top choice, a slightly larger fraction than Jackson.
This may all prove to be a moot point, however, as FiveThirtyEight is hearing that State Senate President and Obama mentor Emil Jones may have the inside track on being named Obama's replacement. Jones is 73, however, and had reportedly announced his plans to retire, so he may just serve to keep the seat warm until the Democrats have at it in a primary in 2010.