Illinois earned the 49th spot in a recent popularity contest, trailing just behind Mississippi and New Jersey, and following barely ahead of last-ranked California. Public Policy Polling published their findings, based on responses from 1,200 Americans.
The number-one top-ranked state was Hawaii, followed by Colorado, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Virginia in the national popularity ranking. Land of Lincoln neighbors ranked as follows: Kentucky (12th), Iowa (13th), Wisconsin (16th), Missouri (20th), and Indiana (22nd).
Why did Illinois rank so poorly for public popularity?
Sure, the survey sampling could be skewed. Still, the numbers may point to politics, policies and overall politeness. Actually, all three concepts include the same Latin root word, “politus,” which means “to polish.”
Perhaps a little polishing is needed.
Overall, some 29 percent of the poll respondents indicated they had an unfavorable view of Illinois, compared to just 19 percent claiming positive impressions, as Central Illinois’ WJBC reported. Land of Lincoln lovers were conspicuously missing from Republican survey respondents, according to The Chicago Tribune.
What’s wrong with the state’s reputation?
Chicago political corruption and famous gangsters of old are the stuff of popular American lore. Recent bipartisan scandals have rocked the Governor’s mansion. Road rage stories pepper daily headlines.
Maybe it’s a matter of manners or sportsmanly conduct.
Illinoisans try to be good sports, but it can be trying.
Sure, the Chicago Black Hawks gave Illinoisans something to cheer about in 2010, when they captured the Stanley Cup. The Chicago White Sox grabbed the Central Division title in 2008, but the South Siders haven’t won the World Series in since 2005.
The Chicago Bulls were unstoppable in the 1990s, with six Championship titles (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998). But what have they done for us lately?
And when was the last time the Chicago Cubs went all the way – at least, in the way that phrase is used in polite company?
Maybe it’s time for a few new state celebrities to move Illinois up in the popularity charts.
The state has a respectable roster of popular people from the past, including U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.
Check out this sampling of Illinois luminaries:
- Jane Addams, social worker
- Jack Benny, comedian
- Ray Bradbury, science fiction author
- William Jennings Bryan, orator
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, novelist
- John Deere, industrialist
- Walt Disney, animator
- Harrison Ford, actor
- Benny Goodman, bandleader
- Dorothy Hamill, figure skater
- Charlton Heston, actor
- Burl Ives, folk singer
- Quincy Jones, composer
- Dwight L. Moody, evangelist
- Bob Newhart, actor
- Barack Obama, U.S. President
- Carl Sandburg, poet
Illinois also produced these colorful figures (among others):
- James and John Belushi, actors
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, politician
- Jimmy Connors, professional tennis player
- Cindy Crawford, supermodel
- Richard J. Daley, mayor
- Betty Friedan, feminist author
- Hugh Hefner, publisher
- Ernest Hemingway, novelist
- Wild Bill Hickok, frontiersman
- Rock Hudson, actor
- Bill Murray, actor
- Richard Pryor, comedian
- Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, actors
- Irving Wallace, author
- Raquel Welch, actress
- Florenz Ziegfield, theatre mogul
Is Illinois’ abysmal popularity ranking a glitch or a switch? Could it be a matter of etiquette or simply forget-ticate [sic]?
Either way, the popularity poll gives pause for thought. Perhaps it’s time for a statewide public relations boost. What would old Honest Abe say, if he were here to toss in his own two cents’ worth on Illinois’ popularity?
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