The Daley Debate
There's a moot debate among political wags on whether Mayor Richard M. Daley could have won an unprecedented seventh term had he run for re-election next February .
Many reporters and pols with whom I've spoken say the Mayor would have prevailed; maybe not by as wide a margin as he won additional terms in the previous five city elections, but they believe he still would have defeated his closest challenger (most likely in a runoff) with a comfortable majority of the vote.
I'm not so convinced.
Not after the poll published by the Chicago SunTimes Friday that concluded that among city voters "65% are happy or indifferent that Daley is calling it quits".
And what about the mid-July Chicago Tribune survey that suggested Daley's approval rating had sagged to an all-time low 37% and found that a majority (53%) of Chicago voters surveyed did not want the Mayor to run for another term.
For Daley or any incumbent, those numbers are awful.
How people believe the Mayor would fare in a re-election race depends on where they live to a large extent. Daley has always and continues to have higher approval ratings outside the city limits. Suburbanites who throng to Millenium Park, The Magnificent Mile, Wrigley Field and Sears Tower enjoy the most thriving parts of the city and have always had a more positive view of Mayor Daley.
But Chicagoans in the neighborhoods--who deal with high property taxes, falling real estate values, unemployment, crime, failing schools, expensive parking meters, tow trucks, red light cameras, asset sales, city hall corruption and more--are fingering the Mayor for problems which have been exascerbated by the nation's economic downturn.
In a one-on-one interview with Hizzoner, he told me he never paid attention to polls and looked forward to a campaign next year if he had decided to run. Honestly, I wasn't convinced.
As for Daley's suburban cheerleaders, they should remember one important thing:
They aren't allowed to vote in city elections.