A new poll shows Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a comfortable lead in the mayoral race, but it appears he may not have enough votes to avoid a runoff.
The poll, conducted by the Chicago Tribune, shows the mayor with 42 percent of the vote currently. The closest contender is Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who has 18 percent. Despite his significant lead, the mayor needs 50 percent of the vote plus one in the Feb. 24 municipal election to avoid a runoff. If no candidate receives an absolute majority Feb. 24, the top two contenders will face off in a runoff election.
Bob Fioretti is in third place, according to the poll, with 10 percent of the vote, followed by Willie Wilson at 7 percent and William "Dock" Walls at 2 percent.
About 20 percent of those polled said they were undecided with less than a month to go before the election. If Emanuel takes at least half of these votes on Election Day, it's likely he'll avoid a runoff. In past elections, the majority of the undecided voters usually end up voting for the incumbent, according to the Tribune.
A key factor for all mayoral candidates is the African-American vote, which seems to have taken a slight turn in support of Emanuel, despite the disapproval of many African-American communities following the mayor's closure of nearly 50 schools in predominantly black neighborhoods. According to the Tribune poll, about 40 percent of African-American voters now approve of Emanuel.
The poll was conducted via phone interviews with 708 registered voters who said they were certain they would vote in the election. The interviews were held from Jan. 22-27.
Other Tribune polls conducted throughout the year show a change in voters' perceptions of the mayor, which may have helped him gain his significant lead. An August poll showed that only 29 percent of voters viewed the mayor favorably, whereas the new poll shows that 43 percent view him favorably.