UPI.com, January 23, 2011
Publisher's Note: On January 24, 2011, the Illinois appeals court ruled that former Congressman and Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was ineligible to run for Mayor since he did not reside within the city. On January 28, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the appeals court decision, making Emanuel eligible to run for mayor.
CHICAGO, Ill. -- A majority of Chicago voters don't consider a candidate's race to be a deciding factor in the upcoming mayoral election, a poll released Sunday indicated.
The Tribune/WGN poll said 75 percent of registered voters said the ethnic background of the candidate would have little or no influence on how they cast their vote next month.
The Chicago Tribune said those results were a stark contrast to a few decades ago when Chicago was much more sharply divided along racial lines, and politicians were not shy about exploiting that division.
"Race will definitely be a factor in how I vote, but that doesn't mean the person I pick will be black," said Lessie Hill, an African-American from the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. "The person I choose has to understand that Chicago is very diverse and has a large pool of people who pay taxes like everyone else."
Roger Muller, a white resident of Rogers Park, said, "What is important has to do more with the candidate's background and character and where he stands on the issues."
The poll said that while black and Hispanic voters said they would give more weight to the candidate's race while making up their minds, two-thirds still said it would not be the determining factor.
The field of challengers to replace outgoing Mayor Richard Daley includes two Hispanics, one Caucasian and one African-American. The Tribune noted the latest U.S. Census found Chicago's population roughly divided by thirds among those three ethnic groups.
The poll of 708 registered city voters was conducted Jan. 15-19. The margin for error on all responses was 3.7 percentage points.