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Good News For Emanuel In Latest Polls

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 17, 2015 4:45PM

Photo credit: City of Chicago

We're a week away from the Feb. 24 election and the question most people are asking is will Rahm Emanuel avoid a runoff election? If the latest polls are an indication, the mayor won't have to spend any more of his $11 million-plus campaign fund after next Tuesday.

A new survey from the Tribune shows Emanuel polling at 45 percent, which is short of the 50 percent plus one vote he needs for re-election. Emanuel's approval ratings rose 3 percent in the poll, which has a 3.7 percent margin of error. Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is second with 20 percent (a 2 percent improvement) while Ald. Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson are tied at 7 percent; for Fioretti, that's a 3 percent drop.

The Tribune poll mirrors the latest survey by Ogilvie & Fry showing Emanuel within striking distance of winning the election outright. (Poll graphic via the indispensable Aldertrack daily newsletter.)


The other notable ongoing development with these polls are the percentage of undecided voters remaining as the mayoral race heads into its final days. The Ogilvie & Fry survey stopped tracking undecideds as early voting has begun, but the Tribune poll shows 20 percent of those surveyed still haven't made up their minds. So while there's still a strong "anyone but Rahm" sentiment out there, the other contenders haven't done much to sway undecided voters their way.

The Tribune says this of the undecideds.

The bulk of undecided voters tend to ultimately support a challenger and not the incumbent. But Emanuel doesn't need to persuade a lot of undecided voters to get to a majority.

This is a riff on what we've been saying for weeks about how low voter turnouts favor the incumbent. But that hasn't stopped Emanuel from courting undecided voters, particularly African Americans, in the campaign's waning days. His attack ads on Chuy Garcia, which falsely frames Garcia's property tax vote in the 1980s, makes deft use of West and South Side locations (The Central Avenue Green line stop looms large late in this ad.)

Emanuel is polling favorably against Garcia for black votes 42 percent to 13 percent, but 25 percent of African Americans who took the Tribune survey are still undecided.

That could indicate continued confusion over whom to support following Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis' decision not to challenge Emanuel after she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

It can also indicate the lackluster campaign Garcia has run since he announced his candidacy last October. The ads Garcia's campaign did buy weren't exactly exciting. Emanuel's late push for black voters will receive another boost Thursday when President Obama arrives in Chicago to officially declare the Historic Pullman District a National Monument.

What the Garcia campaign should find troubling is Emanuel's strong showing among Hispanics in the Tribune poll. Garcia currently holds a 48 percent to 33 percent over the mayor among Hispanic voters.