Mayor Rahm Emanuel's approval rate slipping

May 9, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Emanuel appears to be losing the most ground with African-American voters.

The numbers are no surprise on the fifth floor at City Hall. Sources say the mayor's own polling has suggested political problems on the South and West sides.

In African-American neighborhoods, where the city's crime and unemployment rates are highest, it's not unusual to hear residents blame Rahm Emanuel.

"If he would be serious and get the job program going, then he would solve the gang problem and everything else," said Richard Leslie, who is homeless.

The Tribune survey suggested a growing disillusionment. Last year, 48 percent of black voters approved of the mayor's job performance, while only 33 percent disapproved.

This year, 48 percent disapproved, while only 40 percent approved.

"He needs the right people around him, and right now that's not happening," said political consultant Sean Howard.

Howard said Emanuel has neglected the black community's "old guard."

"On Election Day, it's the 55-and-older group that's out there voting, not the 55 and under," said Howard. "He needs to understand that."

The president's endorsement helped Emanuel win 59 percent of the black vote in 2011. Since then, his routine 14-hour days have included frequent visits to the Chatham Business Association, where director Melinda Kelly praised his accessibility.

"We have access to him when we need him to promote what we need to do in our community," said Kelly.

But his school board's plan to shutter 54 schools, most of them in the African-American community, is another key reason for Emanuel's plummeting approval rating.

But Englewood resident Nashella Johnson says, with no other choice, she would vote for Emanuel again.

"I probably will vote for him because I like the things that he's doing in the community and everything," said Johnson.

Mayor Emanuel will mark the end of his second year in office on May 16.

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