Poll: Chicagoans Say They Want Rahm Emanuel Out, Karen Lewis In

Ethan Corey

For the past three years, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis  has been a constant source of headaches for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, even (allegedly) causing the mayor to drop the f-bomb during one of their first meetings. Polling data released by the Chicago Sun-Times will likely have Mayor Emanuel again reaching for Excedrin Extra Strength (and calling up his wealthy donors). In a hypothetical head-to-head match-up for the next mayoral race, Lewis beat Emanuel by a 9 percent margin. According to the Sun-Times, 45 percent of the roughly 1,037 Chicagoans surveyed say they would vote for Lewis, while only 36 percent expressed support for Mayor Emanuel; 18 percent of voters remain undecided. Although Lewis has not declared her candidacy, she has told several media outlets that she is "seriously considering" a mayoral run, and this new data will likely bolster confidence among Lewis' supporters. However, the Sun-Times cautions that the results only offer a "snapshot" of voters' opinions: Lewis admitted she was surprised by the findings. And the pollster cautioned that the results are a snapshot in time — arguably taken at a time when Emanuel has been taking a beating in local and national media coverage. But the poll underscores two political realities: Emanuel is vulnerable as he gears up for re-election next year, and voters are assessing the strength of various potential rivals. For his part, Mayor Emanuel claims to be unconcerned, calling the poll results "laughable" in response to a request for comment from the Sun-Times, but one can only guess what words (possibly beginning with "f") he may be using behind closed doors.

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Ethan Corey is a writer and researcher based in New York. His work has appeared in The Nation, Rolling Stone and MEL magazine.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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