Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias remain locked in a tight race for the U.S. Senate, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Illinois.
With leaners added in, Kirk picks up 41 percent of the vote, while Giannoulias earns 37 percent support. Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones, included for the first time in a Rasmussen Reports survey of the race, earns 9 percent.
Five percent prefer another candidate in the race, and another 9 percent are undecided.
Two weeks ago, when leaners were included in the totals, Kirk and Giannoulias were tied at 45 percent apiece. Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning toward a particular candidate.
From this point forward, Rasmussen Reports considers results with leaners the primary indicator of the race.
The contest in Illinois remains a Tossup in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings.
If leaners are not included, Kirk has 37 percent support to Giannoulias' 34 percent and Jones' 12 percent, suggesting as is often the case that support moves away from third-party candidates to one of the major party nominees as Election Day approaches.
In the previous survey, Giannoulias captured 42 percent of the vote to Kirk's 40 percent when voters were asked their initial preference.
Fifty-eight percent of Kirk voters say they already are certain how they will vote in November, as do 53 percent of Giannoulias' supporters and 40 percent of those who are backing Jones.
The survey of 750 likely voters in Illinois was conducted on Sept. 7 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4 percentage points.
Eighty-two percent of GOP voters favor Kirk, a fifth-term U.S. congressman, while just 69 percent of Democrats support Giannoulias, currently the state's elected treasurer.
Green draws single-digit support from voters in both major parties and 13 percent of those who are not affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans. Kirk leads Giannoulias by more than two-to-one among these unaffiliated voters.
Giannoulias is viewed favorably by 42 percent of Illinois voters and unfavorably by 44 percent. For Kirk, favorables are 45 percent, and unfavorables are 39 percent.
Twenty-six percent have a favorable opinion of Jones, an African-American journalist, while 30 percent regard him unfavorably. But 44 percent don't know enough about the Green Party candidate to venture any opinion of him.
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