Almost half of Illinoisans who live here wish they didn't, with a stunning 84 percent saying the state is headed in the wrong direction.
That, on a day when the Cubs could wrap up the first step toward the World Series, is the not-so-cheery news from the Paul Simon Institute of Public Policy at Southern Illinois University.
In the latest round of its new poll, the school found that 47.2 percent of those questioned said they would like to move to another state if they could, with a bare majority of 51.2 percent saying no. Another 1.6 percent were undecided.
Institute Director David Yepsen noted that the results mirror those found by the Gallup organization three years ago, which reported that 50 percent would like to leave the Land of Lincoln.
But particularly troubling is that younger groups are most inclined to split, with nearly 60 percent of those under age 35 and 35-50 saying they'd like to leave. Only among the elderly, age 66 plus, is continued residence here desired.
Taxes are the single biggest reason, cited by 26.9 percent of the sample. Illinois' lovely weather comes in second as a reason for departure, with 16.3 percent citing it. “Government" gets 15 percent. Oddly, "job/education" is fourth, at just 12.7 percent, despite the state's relatively weak job growth in recent decades.
Only 9.9 percent of those polled say the state is headed in the right direction, with 83.7 percent saying things are getting worse. That's the highest negative figure in the eight years the institute has asked about that. In comparison, a mere 58.6 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 32.9 percent for the right direction.
If there's a silver lining to the survey, it's that people feel much better about their city or neighborhood.
Just under half, 49.5 percent, said their area is headed in the right direction, with 42.7 percent saying it wasn't. If you add "average" to the right-direction side—the institute included it in the unhappy count—83.7 of those polled indicate at least some satisfaction with how their town is doing. Only 10 percent replied “not so good," and 6.3 percent replied “poor." But people in the suburbs and downstate are somewhat happier than Chicagoans.
The phone survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.