"Dead even": New polls show Rahm Emanuel in danger of losing Chicago runoff

Progressive challenger Jesus Garcia is giving Emanuel a run for his money

Published March 2, 2015 5:50PM (EST)

Rahm Emanuel                    (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Rahm Emanuel (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

One week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to clear the 50 percent threshold required to avoid an April runoff, new polls find a deadlocked race between Emanuel and progressive challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

The Chicago firm Ogden & Fry conducted both polls. The first, a Wednesday survey of 1,058 likely voters, found Emanuel taking 42.7 percent of the vote to Garcia's 38.7 percent; the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.07 percentage points. A Saturday poll, surveying 979 likely voters, showed Emanuel winning 42.9 percent, against Garcia's 38.5 percent. That poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

“They’re likely dead even,” pollster Tom Swiss told the Chicago Sun-Times. The firm noted that Latinos typically underpoll, so the surveys probably understate Latino voters' likely turnout in the April 7 runoff.

Garcia, a Cook County commissioner, won 11 of the city's 12 predominantly Latino wards in the first round of voting on Tuesday.

Capitalizing on progressive discontent with the mayor's school closures, privatization schemes, and hostile relationship with organized labor, Garcia has campaigned in the mold of such progressive populists as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He captured 34 percent of the vote last week. Emanuel won just 45 percent, despite a massive campaign war chest and the support of much of the political establishment.

While 55 percent of voters supported candidates other than the first-term incumbent, some analysts have speculated that many cast votes against Emanuel to simply to register a first-round protest. Presented with a choice between Emanuel and Garcia -- and after another month of being deluged with Emanuel's campaign ads -- many of those voters will come home for the mayor, the thinking goes. But the latest numbers underscore that an Emanuel victory is far from assured.

By Luke Brinker

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Centrists Chicago Democratic Party Jesus Garcia Mayoral Race Polls Progressives Rahm Emanuel The Left