New Illinois Polls Show Growing Support For Gay Marriage, Dissatisfaction With Government

Sep 27, 2012

A new poll finds that 70-percent of Illinoisans think the state is heading in the wrong direction. Even stronger majorities favor term limits for state legislators. Another poll shows stronger support for gay marriage. 

When it comes to state government, nearly four out of five Illinois voters favor limiting how long people can be members of the Illinois General Assembly: five consecutive terms for members of the House, three for the Senate.

Charles Leonard with the Public Policy Institute supervised the poll.

Leonard says there are a few things Illinois politicians can do to improve public perception of government, like requiring that they disclose more about their personal and campaign finances, or banning lobbyists from buying gifts and meals for politicians.

But he acknowledges more significant changes, like term limits, could be more difficult to pass.

"It is perhaps unrealistic to expect a legislature to impose rules upon itself" Leonard said.

The institute is sponsoring a conference of academics, journalists and self-styled reformers in Chicago this week. Leonard says he hopes the gathering will bring pressure — positive or negative — to bear on ethics in Illinois government. 

Gay marriage

Three out of four Illinois voters now support legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. That's according to a separate poll from the Public Policy Institute.

Charles Leonard says he suspects people who might once have opposed civil unions have moved to supporting it, while people who only favored civil unions are now OK with gay marriage.

"I suspect the civil union bill having passed in Illinois and the sky having not fallen may account for some greater acceptance" Leonard said.

43.6 percent of voters surveyed — the biggest group — say gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to get married. An additional 32 percent favor civil unions. Together that's 75 percent of the electorate.

Just 20 percent of respondents say there should be no legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships.

Civil unions have only been legal in Illinois since last summer.

Advocates are already pushing for gay marriage. But there are others who want to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.