Rahm Emanuel Nearly Swept Black Neighborhoods in Mayoral Victory

Art Golab and Abdon M. Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times, March 21, 2011

Rahm Emanuel’s big victory in last month’s mayoral election was so resounding that he carried more than four out of every five precincts, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis that offers the first neighborhood-level look at how the mayor’s race was won.

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[The analysis] found that despite the presence in the mayoral election of former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who emerged as the consensus African-American candidate, nearly every majority-black precinct went for Emanuel, whose campaign got a show of support from his former boss, President Obama. That helped Emanuel win 55 percent of the votes–enough to win the mayor’s race outright and avoid a runoff.

Second-place finisher Gery Chico carried 411 precincts, while Miguel del Valle won in 52, and Braun came out on top in only one precinct.

Chico–whose paternal grandparents came from Mexico–carried heavily Mexican-American neighborhoods on the city’s Southwest Side and Southeast Side.

And Chico’s campaign promise to try to avoid cutting pension benefits for city workers in the face of severe budget problems appears to have helped deliver Beverly, Edgewater and Edison Park–each home to many police officers, firefighters and other city workers. Emanuel did not make that same campaign promise.

A cluster of largely Puerto Rican precincts helped del Valle, who was born in Puerto Rico, carry his political base of Humboldt Park. It wasn’t quite enough to win him an entire ward in the mayoral voting–but he came close.

Some nearby precincts in which Mexican Americans now outnumber Puerto Ricans went for Chico, the analysis found.

“Other than political party identification, race is the most important clue to voting,” says Dick Simpson, the former alderman who is now a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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