Explainer: Gift Card Disclosure

On Thursday the Tribune published a story detailing how the Rauner campaign purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gift cards and gave them to people who were helping to get out the vote without disclosing the recipients of the gift cards, in an apparent violation of campaign finance disclosure rules.

What Happened

On their year end quarterly filing the Rauner campaign disclosed a payment to IDT Payment Services of $257,604.75 on 10/24/2014 for “GOTV Labor”. According to the Tribune this was for thousands of $25, $50 and $75 gift cards that were given to people helping with the campaign’s get out the vote operation. However this was the only disclosure related to the gift cards, the individual recipients of the gift cards were not disclosed, though not all would necessarily be required to be disclosed as itemized expenditures.

Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission told the Tribune that these gift cards should be considered monetary compensation, “If they’re giving them a debit card with value on it, that’s payment to these people. You can’t get around it,” he said.

However the Rauner campaign maintains that their single disclosure for IDT Payment Systems was sufficient to comply with Illinois campaign disclosure rules telling the Tribune “The campaign reported the gift cards correctly,” Sarah Clamp, a spokeswoman for Rauner’s campaign, said in an email statement. “The campaign is only responsible for reporting when the campaign makes an expenditure and did this by reporting the purchase of gift cards.”

Conduit Rule

The relevant section that appears to have been overlooked by the Rauner campaign is Section 100.70(c) of Board rules.

Section 100.70 Reports of Contributions and Expenditures
c) An expenditure to a payee who is in whole or in part only a conduit for payment to another, such as a political consultant, credit card issuer or Paypal, must include by way of detail or separate entry the amount of funds passing to each vendor, business entity or person receiving funds from the payment, together with the reason for each disbursement and the beneficiary of the disbursement. This provision shall not apply to a political consulting firm or political consultant, campaign worker, volunteer or political operative, etc., if the amount paid to that entity is less than $3,000 in aggregate during the quarterly reporting period. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to impose a reporting obligation on any person not otherwise required to report under Article 9 of the Election Code or to require the itemization of expenditures not otherwise required to be itemized under Article 9.

The conduits rule is what prevents campaigns from hiding the true recipient of expenditures by simply disclosing payments to an intermediary as was done with their disclosure of payment to IDT Payment Services. Most campaign finance compliance staffers quickly become familiar with this rule as it applies to credit card payments and payroll payments, forcing committees to disclose actual recipients of funds and not just show lump sum payments to either the credit card company or the payroll processing company.


The Rauner campaign should be familiar with the conduits rule having faced criticism previously for failing to abide by it with their previous payroll disclosures. In early 2014 Illinois Review reported that the Rauner campaign was not disclosing the the recipients of funds for payroll expenditures they were simply reporting lump sum payments to their payroll processing vendor Paylocity. Subsequently the State Board asked the Rauner campaign to file amended reports that complied with the conduits rule and the issue was resolved when they did so.

Record Keeping

Here is the relevant section of the campaign finance statute governing record keeping for expenditures:

5/9-7. Records and accounts.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) the treasurer of a political committee shall keep a detailed and exact account of –
(c) the total of all expenditures made by or on behalf of the committee;
(d) the full name and mailing address of every person to whom any expenditure is made, and the date and amount thereof;
(e) proof of payment, stating the particulars, for every expenditure made by or on behalf of the committee. The treasurer shall preserve all records and accounts required by this section for a period of 2 years.

If the Rauner campaign followed the law on recordkeeping for expenditures then they should have a record of the recipients of these gift cards.

Itemized Disclosure

Not all of the transactions to the recipients of these gift cards necessarily needs to be itemized on the quarterly financial disclosure. Here is the relevant section of the campaign finance statute governing itemized disclosure of expenditures:

5/9-11. Financial reports.
(a) Each quarterly report of campaign contributions, expenditures, and independent expenditures under Section 9-10 shall disclose the following:
(6) the name and address of each political committee from which the reporting committee received, or to which that committee made, any transfer of funds in the aggregate amount or value in excess of $150, together with the amounts and dates of all transfers;
(7) the total sum of transfers made to or from the committee during the reporting period and not reported under item (6);
(12) the full name and mailing address of each person to whom expenditures have been made by the committee or candidate within the reporting period in an aggregate amount or value in excess of $150; the amount, date, and purpose of each of those expenditures; and the question of public policy or the name and address of, and the office sought by, each candidate on whose behalf that expenditure was made;
(13) the full name and mailing address of each person to whom an expenditure for personal services, salaries, and reimbursed expenses in excess of $150 has been made and that is not otherwise reported, including the amount, date, and purpose of the expenditure;

Any recipients of gift cards whose aggregate value was $150 or less would not have to appear in the itemized section of the expenditures disclosure, those totals should simply appear in the unitemized expenditures line item on the summary page. However for any person or political committee whose received an aggregate of more than $150 in the reporting period the Rauner campaign would be required to disclose those itemized expenditures.


On my very first campaign I learned this lesson the hard way, I filed some reports that didn’t follow the conduits rule and I had to go back and file amended reports. In speaking with the State Board staff at the time they told me that their emphasis was not on penalties it was simply to enforce disclosure. Once I filed those amended returns and the disclosure was proper the issue was closed. When the Rauner campaign faced the same issue with their payroll disclosures in early 2014 the matter was resolved once the campaign filed amended reports to comply with the conduits rule. The Board could take into account the past issue with the Rauner campaign and assess a fine but most likely an amended report will put the issue to bed. A Rauner staffer likely has some busy days ahead of them, it will be a lot of work to enter all of these transactions into the disclosure software but a lot of work is what the campaign finance rules require.

However if the Rauner campaign didn’t keep records of these gift card recipients then that could be a much different, and likely more difficult situation.

Vote Total Map Tutorial

Someone asked me for some help creating some maps similar to the vote total maps we have in our MAPS section. I wrote a tutorial for creating a very basic vote total map using Google Fusion Tables to display a Google Map showing the vote totals. This particular tutorial will create a map for Obama’s 2012 Presidential performance by Chicago ward.

Download the Tutorial

Included in the file are:

  1. A Word document with step by step instructions.
  2. A KML file with the Chicago ward boundaries.
  3. An Excel file with the vote totals.
  4. An HTML file with the example output.

Chicago Mayoral Runoff Election Analysis

Instead of writing my usual post mortem blog post on the election results for last week’s mayor’s race I agreed to work with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform to perform a somewhat longer and more in-depth election analysis and write a comprehensive report.

One of the elements I found most interesting was that we were able to use US Census data to find a workable definition of the “Two Chicagos” message that the Garcia campaign focused on and one of the more surprising outcomes was that Emanuel did better than I expected among voters in this less affluent, more minority segment of city voters.

A few other interesting observations:

  • The Garcia campaign was able to turnout more Hispanic voters in April, something that is very difficult to do, and voters in Hispanic majority precincts made up a greater raw total of new voters in April than voters in African American majority precincts despite the fact that the Hispanic voting population is far smaller. In April there were almost 26K more voters than February in Hispanic majority precincts compared to just under 23K more voters in African American majority precincts.
  • Despite the impressive increase in voters from majority Hispanic precincts the increase in voters in white majority precincts was even greater. There were about 46K more voters in white majority precincts in April than in February.
  • Also, despite the impressive increase in new voters in Hispanic majority precincts Emanuel maintained roughly the same level of support in these precincts from February to April. In February Emanuel had the support of about 34% of the voters in Hispanic majority precincts and in April that only fell to 33% in Hispanic majority precincts, so despite the increase in enthusiasm and turnout Emanuel still held on to his supporters.

Go read the whole thing, there is a full analysis on this “Two Chicagos” element, plus data on turnout, income, education and race.

Downloading Chicago Mayor by Precinct

If you’re like me you want to download all of the Chicago Mayor election results in this April runoff by precinct and you don’t want to have to load each ward’s page and then copy and paste that into a spreadsheet. Paul Smith was kind enough to share a Python script to download the results but I was unfortunately unable to get his Python script to work so I wrote one in php and got that to work.

Download the 2015 Mayor Runoff by Precinct

Click on the link above to download the April Runoff Election Results by precinct. This will probably take 60 – 120 seconds to run before it lets you save the file. This script will check the CBOE website and then it will write the data to a CSV file that you should be able to download and open in Excel and it will have the Mayor’s race election results by precinct. If the CBOE updates their vote totals with either 1) updated precinct totals or 2) updated VBM totals (or both) just click on the link above again and it will pull the latest data.

If something isn’t working right let me know. Thanks.

Chicago Mayoral Election – Changes in Registration

One item really quick, I went to the CBOE website and pulled the registered voter totals from February and the ones they have currently listed for the runoff and put them into the table below, ordered by the largest increase to the smallest.

Ward April Registration Feb Registration Change
1 29,907 29,232 675
46 29,349 28,676 673
2 33,066 32,438 628
43 30,874 30,254 620
32 31,084 30,469 615
42 31,924 31,309 615
47 33,807 33,218 589
44 30,377 29,803 574
11 26,035 25,470 565
3 32,680 32,142 538
25 25,731 25,194 537
27 32,605 32,087 518
4 31,155 30,651 504
48 30,279 29,787 492
26 25,181 24,709 472
41 34,797 34,339 458
45 31,649 31,191 458
5 29,778 29,321 457
49 25,550 25,105 445
40 28,228 27,800 428
28 32,829 32,409 420
33 23,324 22,909 415
35 22,243 21,846 397
23 22,767 22,399 368
39 29,503 29,135 368
13 24,298 23,932 366
29 34,881 34,515 366
7 32,778 32,415 363
31 21,792 21,429 363
10 25,931 25,572 359
20 26,003 25,662 341
6 33,994 33,658 336
19 35,346 35,016 330
24 27,179 26,850 329
38 29,900 29,593 307
50 25,217 24,914 303
36 21,593 21,293 300
16 26,365 26,071 294
18 32,066 31,783 283
9 36,733 36,454 279
37 31,608 31,338 270
8 37,765 37,496 269
14 18,088 17,822 266
30 21,605 21,339 266
12 18,185 17,930 255
15 18,478 18,233 245
34 38,714 38,472 242
21 38,481 38,244 237
22 19,135 18,907 228
17 30,780 30,599 181
Total 1,441,637 1,421,430 20,207

I had expected to see Hispanic wards with the largest raw increases for two reasons, 1) those wards generally have the lowest raw registration totals so they had the most room to grow and 2) some Hispanic focused polling showed significant enthusiasm about the election.

Instead the wards with the largest raw increase in registration since February tend to be wards that are affluent or white or both. Those are subgroups that tended to favor Emanuel in February. It’s impossible to say which candidates these new registrants are most likely to support, you could make a case for either candidate, but looking at these numbers they did not match the numbers I expected to find.

What To Watch For

On election night back in February the only vote totals made available by the Chicago Board of Elections were the citywide totals. It wasn’t until around 11 or midnight that the ward by ward totals were available. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting analysis that can be gleaned from just the aggregate totals so I probably won’t be doing much tomorrow night.

My hope is that the major media outlets cover this election night well, I thought they did a good job with the runoff. Keep an eye on the Sun-Times, on election night in February a few of their reporters were discussing ward by ward totals well before the Chicago Board of Elections was making that data publicly available. Also, WBEZ has had a lot of good data work throughout this election.

Here are a few of the questions I think people will want to try to quantify on election night, if possible.

  1. How many total votes are projected: (total votes counted so far) / (whole number percent precincts reporting / 100)
  2. What percentage of the uncounted vote does the candidate who is behind need to win in order to move ahead?
  3. Separate the wards by majority African American, majority Hispanic, majority white and no majority, how did each candidate do? How many total votes in each area? Which areas saw the greatest increase/decrease in support levels and turnout?

You should be able to answer the first two questions even without ward by ward totals. Also, the CBOE should be able to tell you how many vote by mail applications were processed and how many ballots were returned so far. The remainder will be a useful number, if there are 20,000 outstanding VBM ballots and the election night totals are within 20,000 votes you’ll want to know that. Any vote by mail ballots have to be postmarked today to be counted but they can be received at any time in the next few weeks.

Unlike November there is no same day registration so the total number of uncounted provisional ballots will not be as significant.

Speaking Engagement

On Thursday afternoon I will be speaking at a lunch panel on the Chicago municipal elections sponsored by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. The event is at noon in the French Room of the Union League Club, ticket info is available here.

Post Mortem

I typically do a post-mortem in the day or two after the election to cover all the various insights available from the data. For this election I have agreed to be part of a larger and more comprehensive written report, I will probably even have to double check my spelling and grammar. The report should be available early next week, I’ll provide a link when it is available.

The Challenge Facing Garcia

The CBOE has updated their election results twice already to include valid late arriving vote by mail votes. They will update on March 10th with final numbers that will include any further late arriving VBM votes and any provisional votes that are deemed valid. There will be some more votes added in before these numbers are finalized and certified but not a huge amount. Here’s where the totals stand as of now:

Emanuel Garcia Wilson Fioretti Walls Total
217,118 159,600 50,604 35,241 13,190 475,753
45.64% 33.55% 10.64% 7.41% 2.77%

Using round numbers there were about 475K total votes in this race and just shy of 100,000 people (99,035) voted for one of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff. Those votes are in play and we discussed them in detail the other day.

Let’s assume for a second that everyone who voted for each of Emanuel and Garcia last month votes again in April and for the same candidate. With that assumption Emanuel starts with a lead of almost 58K votes (57,518) that Garcia needs to make up, and obviously the most fertile ground to find those votes is among the people who voted for either Wilson/Fioretti/Walls because they’ve already turned out for an election once this year. Now let’s also assume that of the voters who voted for either Wilson, Fioretti or Walls back in February at least some of them decide to stay home in April because they just don’t favor either candidate in the runoff. There comes a point where if that number gets sufficiently large then Emanuel doesn’t have to win over any new voters to win the runoff, he could theoretically win the runoff by holding his existing coalition among an April electorate that has shrunk from the February electorate.

Garcia has to keep these Wilson/Fioretti/Walls voters in the April electorate and voting. If 42% of them don’t turn out in April then Garcia can’t win without expanding the electorate in other places. Even if the Wilson/Fioretti/Walls voters lean moderately to heavily anti-incumbent he has to win them over and turn them out, of those roughly 100K votes he has to get the first 58K and then do no worse than split the rest.

Other Options – Expand the Electorate

The next and possibly more difficult option is to try to expand the electorate. As we saw last week, historically runoff elections in Chicago have lower turnout than the February election. This is our first runoff election for Mayor in the modern era so perhaps this runoff will behave differently. If Garcia is going to be able to expand the electorate in his favor these are his most likely avenues:

  1. Natural Growth – there is a plausible theory that now that the Mayor’s aura of invincibility has been pierced voters who are displeased with his first administration but did not think their vote would matter will turn out this time around. There will also likely be a subset of voters who favor the Mayor who have the same rationale, however given the anti-incumbent mood displayed by the voters in February overall this likely favors Garcia. It’s impossible to know how large this natural growth could be and it will mostly be organic and not necessarily as a result of any particular GOTV effort by the campaigns.
  2. Hispanic Voters – Garcia’s strongest subset in February was with Hispanic voters so his best chance to expand the electorate in his favor for April is in this subgroup. Garcia faces two difficult challenges here: 1) Hispanics are generally registered at lower rates than other subgroups and turnout can often be mixed at best. Of the 10 wards with the fewest ballots cast in February 9 were majority Hispanic population wards. Of the 12 wards with the poorest turnout percentage in February 6 were majority Hispanic population wards, 5 were majority AA wards and the remaining one had no majority. 2) While Garcia won a majority of Hispanic voters in February Emanuel held his own (56-34). Even if Garcia wins the support of all of the Hispanics who voted for Wilson/Fioretti/Walls in February he’s still only netting 32 votes for every 100 new people he turns out. If he was going to try to make up his entire 58K deficit here he’d have to turn out 181K new Hispanic voters, only 73K people living in majority Hispanic census tracts turned out in February. The math here isn’t easy.
  3. Disaffected Liberals – According to Politico “Democracy for America and MoveOn.org, are partnering on field efforts, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is raising money for the cash-starved Garcia”. Looking at the breakdown of February’s results by demographic data if large numbers of disaffected liberals exist it’s not easy to identify them based on demographic profiles. Emanuel won majority white census tracts outright and the higher an area’s income and/or the higher the percentage of college graduates the more likely that area was to support Emanuel. Perhaps these experienced groups have found the formula for identifying and motivating like minded individuals. More likely Garcia’s best hope for finding and turning out disaffected liberals is that DFA and MoveOn have lengthy member lists in the area and they can put an effective member to member contact program together.
  4. Organized Labor – it’s clear that the Chicago Teacher’s Union will go all out for Garcia, CTU appears to have taken a big step forward this cycle, and CPS is on Spring Break the week of the April election so they’ll have a tremendous opportunity to activate their members on election day. After that though, it gets a bit murky. The politically experienced Service Employees International Union was neutral in the primary and while they’ve publicly said they would reevaluate getting involved in the runoff they also seem to be going through some internal division within the union and it’s hard to predict what they will do. Then you get to the building trades and while the conventional wisdom is that the unions are generally united in opposing Emanuel many people forget that many of the building trades actually endorsed Emanuel. In February Emanuel did poorest with the less affluent voters and the unions are historically the best at member to member communications so the opportunity for Garcia here is real, it’s just not clear that organized labor is as united in opposing Emanuel as people seem to think they are.
  5. Others – Wilson did best with AA voters, almost 80% of his votes came from areas with AA majority population, so an endorsement from him could be a boost but somehow his endorsement has taken on a life of its own and become a bit of a side show. Fioretti appeared to do best with blue collar white voters, among voters living in majority white precincts with a median household income between $60,000 – $100,000 Fioretti’s support was twice as strong where less than 40% of the population had a bachelor’s degree than the areas where more than 40% had a bachelor’s degree. If Fioretti can be of any help to Garcia it’s likely among this group.

Garcia has momentum on his side and a mathematically plausible path to victory, but the math for him isn’t easy. Looking at his February numbers there is no one subgroup where he had sufficient support to have a clear focus, if he is going to emerge victorious it seems like it will require a multifaceted approach. If the size of the runoff electorate in April shrinks as has historically been the case then Emanuel moves closer to victory simply by holding his current coalition together. Garcia has to find the raw votes to make up that difference, either by winning over the supporters of other candidates or turning out new voters. Early voting starts two weeks from Monday, the clock is ticking.

2015 Mayoral Results Merged With 2010 Census Data

Because we have shapefiles (GIS data files) of the Chicago precinct boundaries from Tuesday’s 2015 Mayoral election we can use software to match them up against any other data set where we have shapefiles, including 2010 US census data. I ran an intersect on the precinct boundary shapefiles against the 2010 census data by census tract (and then prorated the vote totals based on the percentage of land area overlap) so that I could merge data on median household income, education as measured by the percentage of people in a census tract that had a bachelor’s degree or higher and also a much more granular estimation of race than the tracker from the other night. It yielded some interesting results.

View the Results

Download the Results (Spreadsheet)


Early voting starts in a little over three weeks (March 23rd) so these two candidates have very little time to persuade voters. It will be interesting to see which of these two campaigns tries to win over new voters vs. which ones just focus in increasing turnout among the subsets of voters where they have the most support.

It probably won’t come as a surprise for you to learn that the Mayor did better with affluent voters than the less affluent voters but it did surprise me to learn that a small majority (50.3%) of voters on Tuesday live in census tracts where the median household income is less than $60,000. The Mayor only won that group 41-34 as opposed to the people who live in census tracts with median household income above $60,000 where the Mayor’s margin was greater at 50-33. There is a pretty clear financial divide for these two candidates that may prove beneficial for GOTV strategies.

In census tracts with a majority Hispanic population Garcia won an outright victory 56-34, however only 15% of Tuesdays voters live in those areas. On the other hand Emanuel won a clear victory in census tracts with a majority white population 53-32 and 37% of Tuesday’s voters live in those areas. Even though Garcia has a natural base with Hispanic voters that base is smaller than the voting population of other ethnic groups.

34% of the voters who live in majority African American census tracts voted for one of the candidates that didn’t qualify for the runoff, these voters are now coveted by both candidates. Among the voters who live in majority African American census tracts Emanuel’s support is roughly the same regardless of household income. For example the AA voters who live in census tracts with a median HH income between $0 – $20,000 supported him at 42.5% while the AA voters with median HH income between $80,000 – $100,000 supported him at 41.5%. On Tuesday Emanuel won the support of more AA voters than any other candidate and whatever message it was that won him that support seemed to work the same regardless of the voter’s income.

On the other hand, Garcia’s support among the voters who live in majority AA census tracts did vary by income and he had greater support among the more affluent African American voters than the less affluent. For example the AA voters who live in census tracts with a median HH income between $20,000 – $40,000 supported him at 21% while the AA voters with median HH income between $100,000 – $120,000 supported him at 36%. Garcia has two challenges here 1) he earned a greater rate of support among affluent AA voters on Tuesday but the vast majority of the AA voters on Tuesday came from the less affluent census tracts (1/3 of the AA voters came from tracts with median HH income less than $40,000 and 82% less than $60,000) so he’ll have to tailor his persuasive message toward the less affluent if he wants to improve his support rate, and 2) he has a difficult needle to thread in that his best GOTV strategy for the city overall is to focus on voters in < $60,000 census tracts while his best performing AA subsets are the more affluent ones.

Voters in majority white census tracts tended to be somewhat more affluent than their counterparts in majority AA or majority Hispanic census tracts. For example only 7% of voters who live in majority white census tracts had a median HH income under $60,000 whereas 82% of voters who lived in either of AA or Hispanic majority census tracts had a median HH income under $60,000. So voters in majority white census tracts tend towards the higher income brackets compared to their counterparts in AA or Hispanic majority tracts and there is a clear correlation between an increase in income bracket and an increase in support for the Mayor but there is still a ray of hope for Garcia among middle class white voters. A good majority of white voters (59%) live in census tracts with a median HH income between $60,000 – $100,000 and of all of the subsets of white voters this is where Emanuel did the worst, falling just below 50%. Also, even though Fioretti didn’t win much support anywhere this was the subset of voters where he was the strongest. Garcia has the opportunity to make some inroads with middle class white voters.

When I ran the numbers I included data about education as measured by the percentage of people in each census tract that had a bachelor’s degree or higher but I haven’t included this data in this analysis mostly because those numbers track pretty closely to the income bracket numbers. Higher income areas tend to have a higher percentage of college educated people so the conclusions tend to mirror one another.

Election day is a little more than 5 weeks away and in a little more than 3 weeks early voters can start casting ballots again so there isn’t much time to turn out voters and there is even less time to win over new ones. For either campaign to emerge successful they’re going to have to study these data subsets and find their winning formula.

Some More Numbers – Chicago Mayor Race

Total Votes – Participation Rate:

There has been a lot of attention given to the fact that turnout last night was significantly lower than four years ago, which is true, however that year was a bit of an outlier and this year’s numbers track pretty closely to the 2007 and 2003 Chicago Municipal elections:

Reg Voters Tot Mayor Voters Participation Rate
Feb 2003 1,436,286 463,145 32.25%
Feb 2007 1,407,979 456,765 32.44%
Feb 2011 1,406,037 590,357 41.99%
Feb 2015 1,421,430 466,177 32.80%

With some valid late arriving vote by mail ballots left to be counted the total votes in the Mayor’s race last night currently stands at about 466K (very close to my projection last night) and a participation rate of a little under 33% on about 1.4 million registered voters. You can see that over the last four cycles the number of citywide registered voters has stayed within a band of 30,000 so it’s held pretty flat. The total vote last night held remarkably similar to 2003 and 2007. In other words last night’s election was nothing special, wasn’t a big turnout like 2011 and wasn’t a horrible one either, it just tracked well with other recent elections with an incumbent Mayor.

Projecting April’s Turnout:

Today I saw two schools of thought on the likely turnout for the April runoff: 1) the number of total voters in the Mayor’s race in the April runoff will be lower because a) there aren’t competitive aldermanic elections in every ward, b) some supporters of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff will not vote and c) election fatigue. The other school of thought is 2) the number of total voters in the Mayor’s race in the April runoff will actually be higher than February because a) with a slimmed down field the campaign coverage will be more focused and more voters will be paying attention, b) the Mayor’s veil of invincibility has been pierced leading some disaffected voters to participate, c) the weather will be better and d) with fewer other races to distract the campaigns or dilute the campaign staffs more people will be working to drive up turnout.

I still tend to believe that the overall number of voters in the Mayor’s race in April will be lower than the total from February but I find the conversation interesting. We don’t have much historical data to work with, there hasn’t been a runoff in the Mayor’s race since the current format was put in place in 1999. However we can look at all of the aldermanic elections that went to runoff in the last three cycles and see how regularly the April runoffs featured more total voters than the February elections:

Year Ward Feb Total Apr Total Diff Diff %
2011 6 15,045 10,114 (4,931) -32.8%
2011 15 7,059 3,550 (3,509) -49.7%
2011 16 6,116 3,654 (2,462) -40.3%
2011 17 9,900 6,063 (3,837) -38.8%
2011 20 7,467 4,518 (2,949) -39.5%
2011 24 9,255 5,490 (3,765) -40.7%
2011 25 8,823 7,291 (1,532) -17.4%
2011 36 14,052 10,074 (3,978) -28.3%
2011 38 12,256 7,880 (4,376) -35.7%
2011 41 20,109 14,458 (5,651) -28.1%
2011 43 14,267 9,644 (4,623) -32.4%
2011 45 15,879 12,136 (3,743) -23.6%
2011 46 13,906 9,967 (3,939) -28.3%
2011 50 11,487 9,698 (1,789) -15.6%
2011 Combined 165,621 114,537 (51,084) -30.8%
2007 2 11,103 9,399 (1,704) -15.3%
2007 3 8,087 8,369 282 3.5%
2007 15 6,046 4,641 (1,405) -23.2%
2007 16 6,104 5,278 (826) -13.5%
2007 18 13,228 8,970 (4,258) -32.2%
2007 21 14,096 10,563 (3,533) -25.1%
2007 24 8,421 6,416 (2,005) -23.8%
2007 32 8,107 8,237 130 1.6%
2007 35 6,561 6,543 (18) -0.3%
2007 43 9,307 8,321 (986) -10.6%
2007 49 7,441 7,803 362 4.9%
2007 50 10,489 11,325 836 8.0%
2007 Combined 108,990 95,865 (13,125) -12.0%
2003 1 6,930 9,007 2,077 30.0%
2003 6 12,686 9,354 (3,332) -26.3%
2003 15 6,048 4,450 (1,598) -26.4%
2003 21 13,451 11,902 (1,549) -11.5%
2003 Combined 39,115 34,713 (4,402) -11.3%

Looking at the table above the general expectation for an aldermanic runoff is the April election will have fewer total votes than the February election, in fact the average for the 14 aldermanic runoffs of 2011 was about 31% lower (12% lower on average in 2007 and 11% lower on average in 2003). There are a few exceptions of course but it’s clear that April just has a lower participation rate.

However I would caution these totals are just for downballot aldermanic races. A runoff in a Mayor’s race is likely to lead most newscasts over the next 6 weeks. You’ll also see plenty of broadcast TV ads and heavy mail and likely phone calls or door knocks. The level of attention given to this runoff will be very different from these past aldermanic runoffs. No matter what your preferred theory is for turnout in April I don’t think the data rules out any possibility.

Chicago Mayor Post Mortem

Late last night the Chicago Board of Elections made their ward by ward (and precinct by precinct) numbers available and I was able to plug those numbers into the tracker I would have used had those numbers been available earlier in the night. Most of these insights are derived from a quick glance at the tracker.

2015 Chicago’s Mayor’s Race Election Night Tracker

A few thoughts:

  • In majority AA wards (by census) Emanuel (42%), Garcia (26%), Wilson (22%), Walls (6%), Fioretti (5%). In wards with an AA majority 32% of the vote went to candidates that will not be in the runoff so it will be interesting to see where these voters fall.
  • In majority Hispanic wards (by census) Garcia (52%), Emanuel (37%), Fioretti (7%), Wilson (3%), Walls (1%). Only 11% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.
  • In wards with a white majority (by census) Emanuel (52%), Garcia (34%), Fioretti (10%), Wilson (4%), Walls (1%). 15% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.
  • In wards with no majority (by census) Emanuel (49%), Garcia (35%), Fioretti (9%), Wilson (5%), Walls (1%). 15% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.
  • Reminder, the “2011” numbers in my tracker were reconfigured to match the current ward maps. In the majority AA wards the 2015 numbers for Emanuel were about 12-20 points lower than 2011.
  • It was harder to draw conclusions about the Hispanic majority wards, some showed Emanuel improvement (10/13/14/31), others big drop (22/25/33/35).
  • In only a very few wards did Emanuel improve over his 2011 numbers but somehow in the 13th ward he did almost 15 points better. Interesting.
  • It appears that 19 aldermanic races are headed to an April runoff (2, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 29, 31, 33, 36, 37, 41, 43, 45, 46). So while the overall numbers were Emanuel (45%), Garcia (34%), Wilson (11%), Fioretti (7%), Walls (3%), if my math is correct in just the 19 wards that are headed to aldermanic runoff the numbers were Emanuel (46%), Garcia (31%), Wilson (12%), Fioretti (8%), Walls (3%). The Mayor did slightly better than average in these 19 wards but there is also 23% of the vote in these 19 wards that went to candidates that won’t be in the runoff so it will be interesting to see where those voters fall. Obviously these 19 wards are likely to have higher turnout in April than the wards without Aldermanic elections.

Here are some of the big questions going into April:

  1. Of the 21% of voters who voted for one of the candidates who didn’t qualify for the runoff, where does their support go? These voters are largest among wards that have an AA majority by census so you’ll likely see a significant focus of the campaign in those communities between now and April.
  2. Can Garcia expand on his 52% of the vote in Hispanic majority wards and can the Mayor continue to make inroads among Hispanic voters despite having a Hispanic candidate in the race?
  3. What happens in the 19 wards with Aldermanic runoffs and how does that affect the Mayor’s race?

Now we have a six week sprint until April.