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%
CANDIDATEPCT
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%
Unsure:18.72%

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%
Asian10.59%4.71%4.71%9.41%3.53%40.00%5.88%0%21.18%100.00%
Hispanic5.26%1.05%17.37%3.16%22.11%28.42%1.05%4.21%17.37%100.00%
White6.67%1.47%11.53%1.58%3.28%52.09%2.49%1.36%19.55%100.00%
Other/Refused10.34%2.30%6.32%5.17%2.30%33.91%5.75%1.72%32.18%100.00%
AGE BRACKETBraunBurrisChicoDavisDel ValleEmanuelMeeksOthersUnsureTotal
18-2419.75%6.17%2.47%4.94%2.47%32.10%7.41%2.47%22.22%100.00%
25-3412.50%2.00%3.50%4.00%3.00%40.00%8.50%1.50%25.00%100.00%
35-448.31%1.66%11.96%5.65%5.65%40.53%5.98%1.00%19.27%100.00%
45-5411.42%2.56%9.56%6.06%4.43%40.09%4.66%3.03%18.18%100.00%
55-6413.48%1.95%8.59%7.62%4.49%41.21%3.91%1.56%17.19%100.00%
6. 65+13.66%3.55%6.42%8.61%2.60%39.48%5.74%0.27%19.67%100.00%
AREABraunBurrisChicoDavisDel ValleEmanuelMeeksOtherUnsureTotal
North5.23%1.36%11.36%1.36%5.91%52.27%2.95%1.14%18.41%100.00%
South17.02%4.46%7.44%8.93%1.82%29.92%10.08%1.32%19.01%100.00%
Lakefront14.39%1.75%6.49%5.96%1.40%47.89%4.21%0.88%17.02%100.00%
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.

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