Emanuel's Approval Ratings Sink to New Low in Tribune Poll

Can Rahm win back Chicago's love before Election Night?

The Chicago Tribune took another big swipe at Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday, publishing the dismal results of a job performance poll that shows Emanuel's approval numbers in the tank.

The conservative-leaning paper surveyed Chicago voters and found significant dissatisfaction with how the incumbent Democrat -- up for relection this February -- is handling the city's multitude of problems including a broken education system. According to the Trib, Emanuel's job approval rating slipped from 50 percent around this time last year to a current low of 35 percent.

"During the past year, the mayor's approval rating has dropped across all major racial, income, age and gender lines," its report says. "Perhaps most troubling to Emanuel's re-election: crumbling support among white voters and an accelerating decline of support among African-American ones."

(To wit: Almost 60 percent of black voters said they disapprove of Emanuel's performance, up from 48 percent in May 2013, the paper reported. Meanwhile 46 percent of white voters expressed disapproval, a 14 percentage-point jump from last year's 32 percent.)

A majority of disillusioned poll-takers said they would throw support behind potential Emanuel opponent Karen Lewis, the fiery Chicago Teachers Union boss. She grabbed 43 percent of the vote, while Emanuel took 39 percent. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Interestingly, the most youthful voters (between the ages of 18 and 35) picked Lewis over Emanuel, 51-36 percent. It the was reverse with voters in the 36-49 bracket.

Asked about a match-up with Ald. Bob Fioretti, a vocal Emanuel critic and member of City Council's progressive caucus, results skewed in the mayor's favor with 43 percent of the vote to Fioretti's 26 percent. Buzz is building that the 2nd Ward alderman may throw his hat into the ring, and the Trib takes his unexpectedly high poll results as a "sign that there's a sizable contingent of anyone-but-Emanuel voters."

A two-thirds majority said they think Emanuel is out of touch with "people like them," and the mayor polled best among voters with household incomes $100,000 and above.

Emanuel's spokesperson did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment.

So far nobody has stepped up to challenge Emanuel, who's undergoing a progressive shift of sorts as he tries to redefine himself to Chicagoans -- and hold onto his City Hall office.

Emanuel was in New York City earlier this week for an income inequality summit alongside Hizzoner Bill De Blasio. The Brooklynite's left-wing politics are gaining traction across America as a larger progressive movement builds in response to the widening wealth gap and the erosion of the middle class.

Ever shrewd, Emanuel the Strategist certainly knew that associating with De Blasio and progressive causes could help to repair his standing among everyday Windy City residents who think the multi-millionaire mover-and-shaker prioritizes business interests over those of the community. He dismissed such cynism in the news media, saying he's long cared about liberal issues.

His proposals to raise the city's minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $13 and to beef up pre-K in CPS schools are the most visible steps in re-making a kinder, gentler, leftier Rahm, not the "walking personality disorder" as bluntly described by the Trib last spring.

Will he prevail in 2015? Stay tuned, and sound off in the comments.

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