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Gabrielle Levy/MEDILL

Source: We Ask America Poll

Emanuel's support is diverse, survey shows

by Gabrielle Levy
Jan 27, 2011

Chicago voters are still confidently supporting Rahm Emanuel in his bid for mayor, despite the pending case in the Illinois Supreme Court that could throw him off the ballot.

A poll released Tuesday by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and We Ask America, a Springfield-based polling company, shows Emanuel supported by 53 percent of likely voters. This is more than the minimum 50 percent plus one vote required for him to win the Feb. 22 election outright.

The We Ask America poll, along with a Chicago Tribune survey released Jan. 20, shows that Emanuel’s supporters are a far more diverse bunch than expected.

In the poll of likely voters, more than 56 percent of African American respondents said they support Emanuel, nearly double their percentage of Chicago’s population. The same poll shows that 20 percent of blacks plan to vote for Braun.

In several recent polls, 45 percent of Chicagoans say they’ll vote for Emanuel. Twenty-five percent support Carol Moseley Braun, and another 25 percent is split between the two Latino candidates, Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle. That breakdown closely parallels 2009 census estimates of Chicago’s population at 42 percent white, 34 percent black and 27 percent Hispanic.

The Chicago Tribune’s Jan. 20 poll, reported that Emanuel was supported by 44 percent of all respondents and lead in all ethnic categories with 40 percent of black and 30 percent of Hispanic votes.

In random interviews at a downtown Blue Line subway Wednesday night, several Chicagoans said they didn’t want to be boxed into supporting a particular candidate just because he or she shares the candidate’s race. Perry Diggs, 30, said he has no intention of voting for Braun simply because they are both African American.

“My family might vote for the black candidate just to vote for the black candidate, but I don’t think that’s what my ancestors fought for,” Diggs said. “They fought for choice.”

Diggs said he didn’t know for sure who would get his vote on Election Day. He said he plans to do more research into the platforms of Emanuel and Braun, but he is leaning toward voting for Chico. “I like his track record with the schools,” Diggs said.

Tanya Miller, 54, also an African American, said she plans to vote for Emanuel.

“I didn’t know who I wanted to vote for, but I changed my mind,” Miller said. “I’m starting to like Emanuel.”

Miller said Emanuel seems to want to help everybody in the city, not just those who look like him. “I don’t vote on a person’s race,” she said.

One Hispanic Chicagoan, who did not want to be identified to protect her right to a secret ballot, said the only candidate who visited her Pilsen neighborhood was del Valle.

Imelda Morgan, 34, also Latina, said she plans to vote for Emanuel even though she doesn’t know much about him.

“He went to Washington. He worked for [President Barack] Obama,” Morgan said. “I like his strong approach.”

That strong approach, Morgan said, is what makes her think he can be effective fixing problems in crime and education.

“He's the only candidate who seems suitable to run a city like Chicago,” she said.