A new poll says that Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Republican challenger Bobby Schilling are in a dead heat more than a year before the 2014 elections.
The poll, conducted for the political website Capitol Fax, said that Bustos led Schilling, 45 percent to 44 percent. Eleven percent were undecided, according to the poll.
The survey was done earlier this week and sampled the opinions of 1,496 respondents in the district and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.68 percent.
Jon Schweppe, a Schilling campaign spokesman, said that a tight race this early in the campaign cycle was "bad news" for Bustos, whom he called a "missing-in-action representative."
Allison Jaslow, who is Bustos' chief of staff and was her campaign manager last year, responded to the poll by saying that the congresswoman is working to "bring common sense to Washington" on a range of issues and it's those things that voters will weigh when they vote more than a year from now.
The poll said that 55 percent of the respondents said Bustos was "very" or "somewhat" effective. Thirty-two percent said that she was not effective.
Last year, Bustos defeated Schilling after a hard fought and expensive battle that saw millions of dollars poured into television ads by the candidates, their parties and interest groups.
Schilling has argued that a new electorate will turn out in 2014, when President Barack Obama isn't on the ballot, and that he is poised for a comeback.
Bustos, however, has aggressively raised money and traveled the district. She has had little to say publicly about the upcoming campaign but is among a number of House Democrats who are in districts the party believes are vulnerable in next year's elections.
The poll had somber news for other Democrats in the state. Gov. Pat Quinn had an approval rating of 22 percent in the district, according to the poll.
President Obama's approval rating was only 43 percent, the poll said, while 50.5 percent disapproved.