Brief • 1 min Read
The citizens of Chicago will elect their next mayor on February 28th. With nine declared candidates, the race remains wide open, and the likelihood a runoff between two candidates will be necessary. To investigate what voters are looking for, The Harris Poll polled a representative sample of prospective voters on the qualities they value in a candidate, what issues they deem important, and how hey appraise the performance of the incumbent, Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Below are a few of the key insights that have emerged.
In general, Chicagoans expect to exercise their right to vote this February, but many have yet to decide on a candidate. A majority 84% of those eligible* to vote in Chicago’s upcoming mayoral election plan to do so.
Mixed reviews of current local leaders indicates that Chicagoans may be open to a new mayoral candidate.
Only 24% of those who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election are at least somewhat satisfied with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s performance as Chicago’s mayor. Two in 10 (23%) report feeling neutral, while 53% report feeling at least somewhat dissatisfied with her performance. Three-quarters of those who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election (74%) agree that Chicago would be better off with a different mayor, and only about a third (36%) agree that that Mayor Lightfoot deserves to be re-elected.
Dogmatic local leadership could be a lesser priority for voters—though most Chicagoans still see the city’s issues as needing a firm hand to address.
Nearly all who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election (94%) agree that Chicago is facing issues that require a firm leader to address. Six in 10 (57%) strongly agree. Eight in 10 (84%) agree that Chicago’s leaders need to be tougher than leaders in other U.S. cities.
Three-quarters of those who plan to vote in the 2023 mayoral election state that trustworthiness (73%) and/or honesty (75%) are important factors they consider when evaluating prospective mayoral candidates. Similarly, 63% consider a candidate’s sense of integrity.
Chicagoans may prefer a tested leader over a career politician as mayor.
Six in 10 Chicagoans who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election (61%) consider leadership experience when evaluating mayoral candidates, while only 38% consider experience in government. That said, most remain open to a politician. Only 16% place value in a candidates’ non-government experience.
Identity politics could play a lesser role in the voting process—though most Chicagoans still find party lines to be informative when it comes to understanding a politicians’ stance on a particular issue. Eight in 10 Chicagoans who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election (79%) agree that, in general, they would vote for a candidate who shared their beliefs, regardless of political party. About a third strongly agree. Only a third (36%) consider a mayoral candidate’s political party to be an important factor when evaluating mayoral candidates.
Unsurprisingly, public safety and the economy could take center stage.
About half (51%) of those who plan to vote in the upcoming mayoral election state that a mayoral candidate’s stance on a specific issue is an important factor when evaluating candidates. Key issues in Chicago include:
- Public safety
- 95% of those who plan to vote in the upcoming election consider the public safety situation in Chicago to be personally important; 82% consider it very important
- 64% think that that the public safety situation is worse in Chicago than it is in other cities in the U.S.
- 74% expect Chicago’s public safety situation to remain the same (39%) or decline (35%) over the next 5 years
- Local economy (e.g., health of businesses, ability to attract businesses)
- 94% of prospective voters consider the public safety situation in Chicago to be personally important; 53% consider it very important
- 33% think that the local economy is worse in Chicago than it is in other cities in the US; only 19% think it’s better
- 65% expect Chicago’s local economy to remain the same (45%) or decline (25%) over the next 5 years
* Note: for the purposes of this research, eligible voters (also known as prospective voters) are defined as current Cook County, IL residents (ages 18+) who report that they are currently registered to vote in the City of Chicago or plan to register to vote in the City of Chicago within the next 6 months.
This survey was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll from December 5, 2022 through December 15, 2022 among 1,005 Cook County, IL residents, age 18+. Figures for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, region, household income, and propensity to be online have been weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions within the U.S. population. Respondents for this survey were selected from a pool of potential respondents who have agreed to participate in The Harris Poll’s online research. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 4.0 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.
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