Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot In Danger of Not Making Runoff in Re-Election Bid

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

With the Chicago mayoral election less than three weeks away, three out of five voters disapprove of the job Mayor Lori Lightfoot has done in her first term; more than half hold an unfavorable opinion of her, and 71% think the city is on the wrong track.

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And yet, Lightfoot is in a virtual three-way tie for the lead with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and former school board chief Paul Vallas. Garcia, the odds-on favorite, is at 20%, with Vallas at 18% and Lightfoot trailing at 17%. Significantly, 18% of likely voters are still undecided, and the poll by Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ/Telemundo Chicago/NBC5 has a margin of error of 4%. That means that even the fourth-place finisher in the poll — entrepreneur Willie Wilson at 12% — could squeak into the runoff election scheduled for April 4 between the two top vote-getters.

All three of the frontrunners have first-class organizations capable of getting their supporters to the polls. But Lightfoot has a reservoir of passionate supporters who see her as a slightly less radical alternative than Garcia.

Last month, a survey showed Lightfoot in fourth place with just 9% of the vote. At that time, the Lightfoot campaign was saying their internal numbers were much better than that. The campaign released a statement yesterday confirming it.

“As we’ve shared transparently, our internal polling paints a distinctly different picture,” the campaign’s statement said. “We fully anticipate winning this election, particularly once the voters learn all about the extremely troubling histories of Mr. Vallas and Mr. Garcia. Mayor Lightfoot has always been underestimated by pundits, and apparently, today is no different. See you on April 4.”

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Lightfoot shouldn’t sound so confident about a runoff. In an eight-candidate field, Lightfoot does fairly well. But head-to-head against her closest rivals is a different story.

Chicago Sun-Times:

Voters were asked about potential runoff matchups — and Lightfoot fared poorly in the scenarios that included her.

In a hypothetical Vallas-Lightfoot contest, the former CPS chief led the mayor 48% to 35%.

That gap widened when voters were asked to choose between Lightfoot and Garcia, with the Southwest Side congressman earning 54% of the vote compared to just 30% for the mayor.

When Garcia and Vallas were pitted head-to-head, 47% of respondents chose Garcia and 36% went with Vallas.

To illustrate how high feelings are running against Lightfoot among ordinary voters, Melvina McElroy, a 57-year-old Englewood resident, voted for Lightfoot in 2019 but now regrets her choice.

Melvina McElroy, a 57-year-old Englewood resident, had high hopes for Lightfoot when she voted for her in the 2019 mayoral election, and even helped give people rides to the polls. But McElroy said she feels Lightfoot has failed to make progress on the issues that she sees plaguing her neighborhood, such as crime, vacant lots and shuttered schools.

McElroy said over the years a dozen of her relatives have left the city for other states.

“That’s 12 people who could be paying taxes to help the city. But yet the families left, because, one, nothing is changing, and it’s actually getting worse and worse under her administration,” McElroy said of Lightfoot. “It is.”

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The poll showed that people were disgusted with politicians, disgusted with police, and 63% of them don’t feel safe. That’s a recipe for overthrowing an incumbent mayor.

But Chicago’s problems run far deeper than one politician or even the current leadership. Chicago’s crime and corruption problems are systemic, and changing the driver of this out-of-control streetcar won’t fix anything.

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