It appears Mayor Rahm Emanuel came out on top the first time he faced Jesus "Chuy" Garcia head-to-head in the NBC 5 Candidate Forum, according to unofficial survey results.
During the forum, NBCChicago.com asked viewers on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ questions relating to topics the candidates discussed. Out of the five questions with the most responses, all of them heavily favored the mayor.
The survey is not scientific and should not be read as an official poll. Nonetheless, the results were interesting.
It was no surprise that viewers chose Emanuel as the candidate with the best understanding of the city's financial situation after Garcia's vague budget plan and "creative finance" ideas. Emanuel banked 82 percent of the responses, leaving Garcia with only 18 percent.
Other results, however, were shockers.
Emanuel also received the most survey support when viewers were asked which candidate would make the best decisions regarding Chicago Public Schools. After his largely unpopular and controversial decision to close 50 schools in the city's poorer neighborhoods and after Garcia earned support from the city's South and West Sides in the Feb. 24 election, it's a surprise only 31 percent of viewers have confidence in Garcia.
The question about Chicago violence also yielded a surprising outcome. Emanuel has come under fire many times over the last four years for excessive violence in the city. Many residents argue that he has also contributed to gang violence by closing schools in gang territories and forcing children and teenagers in rival gangs to attend the same schools and cross boundaries.
Garcia, meanwhile, has consistently touted a greater police presence in Chicago's neighborhoods, particularly on the South and West Sides, and has criticized the mayor heavily for exclusively serving the rich 1 percent, who do not live in the most crime-ridden areas.
The survey responses, however, again favor Emanuel. More than 75 percent of respondents chose the mayor when asked which candidate they think would most effectively decrease violence in Chicago.
Viewers were also asked who would do the most to invigorate Chicago neighborhoods and who would best improve the city's red light program.
The question now is, why did Emanuel so handily outpace Garcia in each of these five surveys?
When NBC 5 political editor Carol Marin asked questions that were tough to answer, both candidates could walk around the heart of the matter. The difference between Emanuel and Garcia, however, is that one is an incumbent and one is a first-time mayoral candidate.
When it comes to Chicago's finances, for example, the best answers are also the hardest answers. And in the heat of election season, no candidate wants to shock voters with budget cuts. Emanuel can avoid answering the question by talking about past successes. Garcia, however, can only provide vague answers of what he will do, i.e. "creative finance."
While both candidates handled the questions as well as expected, our unofficial survey results show that Garcia still has some work to do to convince voters that he can do a better job than Emanuel in the circumstances that surround Chicago.