Too good to check: Could Obama lose ... Illinois?

Look, I’m a pretty sunny optimist, but this stretches even my credulity.  A pollster in Illinois believes that Mitt Romney can win Barack Obama’s home state, thanks to a mediocre performance in Cook County by the incumbent, and outright hostility outstate:

A poll conducted by Illinois-based pollster and political strategist Michael McKeon found Obama leading Republican Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 37 percent in Cook County, the home of Chicago. That puts him ahead by a far thinner margin than expected in a county he should be winning handsomely.

Cook is the most Democratic leaning county in the state. It is also the most populous. …

According to the poll, which surveyed 629 registered voters last week, Obama’s problems are not in Chicago proper, but in suburban Cook County.

In the city of Chicago itself, he retains a 60-29 lead over Romney. But the Republican challenger leads 45-38 in the surrounding areas. Across the county as a whole, Romney leads 43-31 among independent voters, a crucial voting bloc. Romney also holds a 44-38 lead among male voters, and a 53-40 lead among white voters.

Who’s Michael McKeon?  He’s been around Illinois for decades and runs McKeon and Associates [see update II].  The data on the poll isn’t provided by either The DC or by McKeon’s website, so it’s impossible to vet this more closely.  Suffice it to say that a relatively new pollster can still produce sterling results, but we don’t have much of a track record by which to compare this poll, nor any other recent Illinois polling.

If this poll is accurate, it would obviously be embarrassing to Obama to have to spend a lot of money and attention on his own home state.  Republicans nearly won the gubernatorial election after the conviction of Rod Blagojevich, and Mark Kirk won the open Senate seat in 2010, but the state GOP still needs to do a lot of work to make themselves competitive in the Land of Lincoln.  If Obama really ended up losing Illinois, it would almost certainly be because of a national landslide that would make Illinois a historical footnote.

On the other hand, Democratic pollster PPP warns that Romney has taken a slight lead in Wisconsin — and that might indicate an overall heartland problem for Obama:

We’ll see more when PPP releases the results tomorrow.

Update: From a reader in Chicago via e-mail:

[A]bout a week or two ago I started to see Obama commercials running in the Chicago area and thought to myself, what a waste of money.  Why is Obama spending money on ad buys in a state he has no chance of losing?  Hmmm.

Sometimes, campaigns run ads to stoke fundraising efforts … but still

Update II: My friend Michael Flynn at Breitbart tells me I have the wrong Michael McKeon — it’s not the one from Mercury, but from longtime Illinois institution McKeon and Associates.  I’ve corrected the post above.

Update III: Other readers think that the ads in Chicago are probably aimed at the area in southern Wisconsin (and maybe western Indiana?) that rely on Chicago broadcast stations.