Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit Poll

Knox exit poll surveys voter views

Faculty and students

November 03, 2010

Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit PollVoters in Galesburg want "caring" candidates, according to exit polling conducted on election day, November 2, 2010, in Galesburg by a team of researchers from Knox College.

The exit poll was conducted by Andrew Civettini, assistant professor of political science, and twenty Knox students. The exit poll was, in part, a class project for students enrolled in Civettini's Voting and Elections course.

Photos: Top, political science faculty Andrew Civettini with student Anna Meier discuss data entry following exit poll survey on election day, Nov. 2, 2010; Right, student Cameron King collects survey data at a polling place.

Qualities that Matter

The poll asked a series of questions about political participation, political attitudes, and who voters chose to support in Illinois' gubernatorial race, U.S. Senate race, and U.S. House race for the 17th district.

Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit PollVoters were asked "what quality in a candidate matters most." The top responses were "cares about people like me" at 23.7%, "stands up for his/her beliefs" at 16 %, and "trust him/her more" at 14.8%.

In the gubernatorial race, those polled who said "cares about people like me" preferred Democrat Pat Quinn to Republican Bill Brady, 65 to 35%. However, those who said that it matters most that a candidate "stands up for his/her beliefs" preferred Brady 67 to 33%. Brady also edged Quinn among those who thought that trust mattered most, 56 to 44%.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, a similar pattern holds. Those polled who saw caring for "people like me" as most important preferred Democrat Alexi Giannoulias 57 to 43%, while those who said it was important candidates stood up for their beliefs preferred Republican Mark Kirk 72 to 28%. Kirk also edged Giannoulias among those who felt trust was most important, 57 to 43%.

Photos: Above, student Greg Noth carries exit poll survey forms into computer lab for processing; right, professor Civettini and student Kevin Meyers.

Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit PollA similar pattern holds for the U.S. House race, with those saying a candidate "cares about people" like them preferring Democrat Phil Hare 72 to 28%, but those polled who felt it mattered most for candidates to stand up for their beliefs preferring Republican Bobby Schilling 58 to 42%. In a slightly different result from the Governor's and Senate races, Democrat Hare edged Republican Schilling among those who felt trust mattered most in a candidate, 54 to 46%.

Issues in the Governor's Race

Voters were asked "which one or two issues mattered most in your vote for Governor?" More than half of those polled, 56%, said that the "condition of the state economy" was one of the issues that mattered most in their vote. Among those polled who considered the state economy a top issue for them, 60% preferred Bill Brady to Pat Quinn.

Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit PollOnly one other issue was chosen as mattering most by a sizable proportion of those polled. Of those asked, 23% said that the "character of the candidates" was an issue that mattered most in their vote for Governor. Those polled who said character was a top issue preferred Brady 61 to 39% over Quinn.

Among those polled in Galesburg, Brady clearly edged Quinn on the issues that mattered most to voters in this election.

Partisan Breakdowns

Voters were asked which party they thought of themselves as being. Among those identifying as Democrats, 77% said that they voted for Pat Quinn. By contrast, 98% of those identifying as Republicans voted for Bill Brady. Those identifying as Independent chose Bill Brady over Pat Quinn 59 to 38%.

Knox College Election Day 2010 Edit PollIn the race for the U.S. Senate, Alexi Giannoulias garnered support from 76% of those polled identifying as Democrats, with Mark Kirk securing 13% of those Democrats. By comparison, 94% of those identifying as Republican said that they voted for Kirk. Among those polled identifying as Independent, Kirk beat Giannoulias 70 to 25%.

In the 17th U.S. House district, Phil Hare and Bobby Schilling both enjoyed the support of 90% of those identifying with their parties, among those polled. However, Schilling edged out Hare 54 to 41% among self-identified Independent voters.

Photos: Above, student Amanda Sicoli enters data; right, professor Civettini in computer lab


Knox College Election Day 2010 Exit PollThe students surveyed voters at a random selection of polling locations in the City of Galesburg. Voters exiting polling locations were asked to participate in an anonymous and voluntary poll. In total, 273 voters agreed to participate.

A member of the Knox faculty since 2007, Civettini studies emotions and voting behavior, especially the ways that emotions of hope and anxiety affect political involvement.

For Further Information

Further information about the 2010 Knox Exit Poll can be obtained by contacting Professor Andrew Civettini, Department of Political Science, 2 East South Street, Galesburg, IL 61401. Professor Civettini can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 309-341-7380.