ABC7 poll: Emanuel leading mayor's race

February 8, 2011 8:37:25 PM PST
ABC7's exclusive poll on the Chicago mayor's race provides a snapshot of how the candidates are doing as we head into the final two weeks of the campaign.

Rahm Emanuel's 54 percent share in the survey suggests an overwhelming lead, nearly quadrupling second place Gery Chico at 14 percent; Miguel del Valle was third at 8 percent followed by Carol Moseley Braun at 6; others at 3 and undecideds at 15 percent.

The ABC7 poll suggests that if the vote had been held during the survey, Emanuel had enough support citywide to win the election after the first round.

The overall margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4 percent; for white and African-American voters it is plus or minus 6 percent; and for Hispanic voters it is 12 percent.

The survey of 600 likely city voters was conducted exclusively for ABC7 by Richard Day Research. The respondents were contacted by telephone between February 3 and 7. It is the first independent poll to suggest that Rahm Emanuel had the support of over 50 percent of Chicago voters.

"Certainly if the election were the days that we were polling, it would have been 'one and done,'" pollster Richard Day of Richard Day Research told ABC7. "He gets majority with white voters. He gets a majority with African-American voters and a near majority with Hispanic voters."

Of the African Americans surveyed, 53 percent said they would vote for Rahm Emanuel, rejecting the black political leadership's call for a black consensus candidate.

"This day and age, it has to be for everyone, not just a particular voting bloc. Everyone needs to be interested in it," said Godfrey Lawson, a poll participant and Emanuel supporter. "Mr. Emanuel was saying a lot of things I could align myself with."

A slightly higher number -- 57 percent of whites -- preferred the former congressman. And 47 percent of Hispanics said they'll vote for Emanuel who doubled the share of the second place Latino favorite Miguel del Valle.

"I'm a Chicago fan and I always pull for the underdog. He rarely wins but what the heck," said Todd Lakin, poll participant and Del Valle supporter.

Day said when the survey was conducted the distant second place campaign of Gery Chico was stalled.

"When you get the distance that we're seeing, it can only happen both ways. Emanuel has to be connecting and Gery Chico's message just hasn't resonated," said Day.

The survey also measured the esteem or favorability ratings of all the candidates. On a scale of 10 with five being neutral, Emanuel scored 6.6, Chico 5.7, Del Valle 5.2 and Braun only 3.4.

"The thing that struck me most starkly was how low her favorability ratings were. And not just for everyone, but even among African Americans," said Day.

Braun supporter and poll participant Laura Lane cannot understand the low rating for a former U.S. Senator and ambassador.

"I think she has a very unique perspective having served in all those levels of government that are going to serve her well in a city as large as Chicago," said Lane.

Day says he's confident in his firm's findings. But he says the final results could hinge on how many in Chicago's largest voter group come out to the polls on Election Day.

"You're trying to always think about turnout. And among the most volatile turnout groups is African Americans," he said.

Another unknown factor affecting the turnout of all voter groups on February 22 will be the winter weather.

During ABC7's news Wednesday afternoon, we will look at some of the issues that our survey says are most on the minds of Chicago voters.