Kelly sits at 26 percent support, with Halvorson at 22, Illinois state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D) at 20 and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale (D) at 10 percent, according to the poll, a sign that Halvorson faces a tough road ahead to win the race.

Even more problematic for Halvorson: Her support has dipped three percentage points since Kelly's campaign first polled the race in early January. That shows that the campaign's heavy focus on her opposition to gun control in the heavily urban district is hurting the one-term congresswoman and that her high name identification is unlikely to be enough to pull her across the finish line, and that the race's real front-runners could soon be Hutchinson and Kelly. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (I) super-PAC has been spending heavily on ads against Halvorson, which likely has contributed to her dip in support. She's also struggled mightily with fundraising.


Internal polls should always be taken with a grain of salt, as they're often released to the public to shape the media narrative of a story. But the candidates' positions in Kelly's earlier poll are not substantially different from one released by Hutchinson around the same time.

The poll memo also argues that Hutchinson is benefiting from a lack of knowledge of her own earlier opposition to an assault weapons ban and good rating from the National Rifle Association, though she's since changed her position on that issue. Since none of the candidates has the money to air TV ads, it will be interesting to see if Bloomberg's super-PAC decides to target her as well before the late February primary.

The poll of 400 likely primary voters was conducted by the Democratic firm GBA Strategies from Feb. 4-5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.