Democrat Alexi Giannoulias
has a statistically insignificant lead over Republican Mark Kirk
in the race for Illinois' Senate seat -- a contest that Public Policy Polling says is pitting two of the weakest candidates in the country against each other.
Giannoulias runs ahead of Kirk by 37 percent to 35 percent with 9 percent for Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones
and 19 percent undecided, in the PPP poll conducted Aug. 14-15
. The margin of error is 4.1 points.
Both candidates have struggled against damaging stories about them during the campaign. Kirk came under fire for misleading statements
he made about his military service and Giannoulias has suffered because of stories about his family's failed bank
and some of its practices.
Thirty-five percent say Giannoulias is unethical, 30 percent regard him as ethical and 35 percent are not sure. Twenty-eight percent of likely voters consider Kirk to be an ethical person while 25 percent regard him as unethical, with 46 percent not sure.
Both candidates are seen unfavorably by a plurality of voters, although 32 percent say they still don't know enough about Giannoulias to express and opinion and 40 percent are in the same boat when it comes to Kirk.
Giannoulias is seen favorably by only 51 percent of fellow Democrats while Kirk gets positively ratings from only 49 percent of Republicans.
Independents (26 percent of the sample) regard both unfavorably -- with Giannoulias being seen far more unfavorably by them. Kirk leads Giannoulias among them by 36 percent to 20 percent with 12 percent for Jones and 32 percent undecided.
PPP's Dean Debnam says that while Illinoisans who are most likely to go to the polls in November don't have very positive views of Giannoulias, President Obama or the man who is filling Obama's former Senate seat, Roland Burris, "they're still barely willing to give Giannoulias the nod to keep the Obama-Burris seat because he's a Democrat in a Democratic state."
Follow Poll Watch on Twitter