Will Residency Torpedo Rahm?

NOTE: This poll was commissioned by the Chicago Retail Merchants Association, and the results are being published with their permission. You can read their report HERE.

The decision of Hizzoner Richard M. Daley to retire puts the mayor’s office up for grabs for the first time since April, 1989–thereby throwing the City That Works into political chaos. For many Chicagoans, this race is much more important that those silly old ones for U.S. Senate, Congress and governor.  And while people complain about how shrill things got for the November General Election, they ain’t seen nothing yet…Chicago politics operate in a higher stratosphere that most, and things will get complicated and ugly fast. Accusations and counter-accusations will fly like Bobby Jenks fastballs (and about as accurate), and money will flow like water.

Is this a great country or what?

Twenty (!) candidates have come forward in hopes of garnering the trust of Chicago voters (click HERE for a full list), and while the list includes a few whack jobs and wannabes–it also boasts some very well-known and serious candidates, including:

  • Rahm Emanuel-former Chief of Staff for President Obama and Member of Congress
  • Carol Moseley Braun-former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to New Zealand
  • Danny K. Davis-Member of Congress and former City Councilman
  • Miguel Del Valle-Chicago City Clerk and former State Senator
  • James T. Meeks-Baptist minister, State Senator and education reformer
  • Gery Chico-former Chief of Staff for Mayor Daley and President of Chicago Public Schools

We polled this race back in September when Daley first announced his retirement (click HERE) but before there was a clear slate of candidates. Frankly, we were just curious about how well then-Presidential CoS Rahm Emanuel would do against a broad field of well-known challengers. In a phrase: he ate them for lunch.

But that was then. As soon as Emanuel threw his hat into the ring, questions arose concerning his residency. Sure he was born in Chicago. Sure he was a Congressman from Chicago. Sure he raised his kids in Chicago. But he had the audacity to leave town to serve as Chief of Staff in the White House. Outsider!

Well…those questioning Emanuel’s residency DO have a point of law on their side. (Read the Chicago Tribune’s take on it by John Kass HERE.) But Emanuel will make the point that he continued to vote in Chicago, owns a home in Chicago (oh…the guy who is renting his home from him is running for mayor, too–don’t you love it?), and was merely serving his country.

With all the legal sharks swimming on the rim of residency, what do the voters think? We were commissioned by the Chicago Retail Merchants Association to poll voters on November 23 to find out how they felt. Here are the results:

Chicago Mayor: Topline Results

Type of Poll: Automated
Sample: 2,255 registered voters
Date of Poll: 11/23/2010
Margin of Error: ±2.06%
Carol Moseley Braun:12.33%
Roland Burris:2.40%
Gery Chico:8.86%
Danny Davis:7.29%
Miguel Del Valle:4.78%
Rahm Emanuel:39.00%
James Meeks:5.16%
All others:1.47%

Chicago Mayor: Crosstabs

ETHNIC ORIGINBraunBurrisChicoDavisDel ValleEmanuelMeeksOthersUnsureTotal
African American20.41%4.13%2.93%13.03%0.87%31.70%9.12%0.87%16.94%100.00%
AGE BRACKETBraunBurrisChicoDavisDel ValleEmanuelMeeksOthersUnsureTotal
6. 65+13.66%3.55%6.42%8.61%2.60%39.48%5.74%0.27%19.67%100.00%
AREABraunBurrisChicoDavisDel ValleEmanuelMeeksOtherUnsureTotal
North Central7.84%2.24%6.72%11.20%6.72%35.85%3.36%2.52%23.53%100.00%
South Central16.96%3.53%7.42%8.13%6.01%31.10%4.59%1.41%20.85%100.00%

Apparently Chicago voters don’t consider Rahm to be an outsider. Across all demographics, Emanuel smokes the field. But this is a long way from being done. There could be some quick consolidation of candidates and those remaining are filing their elbows to a sharp point to help clear the way in a crowded field. And those pesky residency laws need to be sorted out.

But Rahm Emanuel could run away with this if someone doesn’t find a way to trip him up.

Note: the Topline results were weighted to account for a small amount over and undersampling in all demographics. No single result was increased or decreased by more than a point from this normalization.

As goes Illinois …

We wrap up this season’s polls with a look at some key congressional races in We Ask America’s home state, Illinois. Will President Obama’s weekend trip to Sweet Home Chicago to pump up the Democrat turnout be enough to put some close races over the top? We’ll soon know. The President has a lot at stake here. Illinois is a Smurf-blue state.  If three current seats held by Democrats (8, 11 & 14)  flip and Republicans hold on to Mark Kirk’s 10th District seat, many will howl that it’s further proof that President Obama is in deep trouble. We polled those districts yesterday to see if the national trend applies. But first, some comments:

The Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives has been predicted for weeks by just about every TV pundit worth his/her pancake makeup. The polls that seem to verify those predictions have not brought out the best from both sides. When we’ve published a poll showing a somewhat surprising result in favor of a Republican, we get calls from Democrat True Believers accusing us of the everything from being partisan hacks to having carnal knowledge of a Budweiser Clydesdale. (Our favorite: the guy who called and asked if “youse guys are former members of the Ice Capades?“) Even more disturbing are those Republicans who called thanking us for “making sure the polls come out in favor of the good guys.”


Let’s make one thing clear: the numbers are the numbers. We don’t have a dog in any of these hunts. We’ve compared notes with pollsters who are aligned with groups on both sides of the fence, and there is consensus that some of these districts are notoriously hard to poll, and turnout can change everything. If our numbers are wrong in any given race, it’s because we’ve failed in an honest effort to measure public opinion, not because someone cooked the books.

There…we feel better now. On with the numbers.

All of the following automated polls were conducted on Sunday, October 31. All calls were made to likely voters. Margins of error are all around 3%. In the final week’s polls, we do not offer an opportunity to selected “undecided” as an option.

Illinois 8Melissa Bean (D)45.74%
773 responsesJoe Walsh (R)48.72%
Bill Scheurer (G)5.54%
Illinois 10Dan Seals (D)45.51%
861 responsesRobert Dold (R)54.49%
Illinois 11Debbie Halvorson (D)44.90%
829 responsesAdam Kinzinger (R)55.10%
Illinois 14Bill Foster (D)45.34%
784 responsesRandy Hultgren (R)50.38%
Dan Kairis (G)4.21%
Illinois 17Phil Hare (D)43.74%
1,103 responsesBobby Schilling (R)51.77%
Roger Davis (G)4.49%

The most intriguing result to us Illinois 8. Since 2004, Democrat Melissa Bean has repeatedly proved to be a winner in this district which many consider to be the most Republican-leaning area from the last redistricting. Bean defeated beleaguered Congressman Phil Crane to win the seat, and has held on since.  This time out she ran a late, but aggressive and expensive campaign against Republican Joe Walsh who did not have the resources to respond.

Almost as intriguing is Illinois 14, where cerebral Democrat Bill Foster dwarfed Republican Randy Hultgren in spending. Hultgren’s plow-horse response, though, may be enough to win the day in the district that was formerly held by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

If these two seats go Republican, the predicted GOP wave may indeed turn out to be a tsunami.