2015 Mayoral Results Merged With 2010 Census Data

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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

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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

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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.

Chicago Municipal Election Useful Info

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UPDATE: our election night tracker for the Chicago’s Mayor’s race is now live:

2015 Chicago’s Mayor’s Race Election Night Tracker

End of update.

The Chicago municipal elections are on Tuesday for all 50 aldermen/women, the Mayor, the City Clerk and the City Treasurer.

Since the last Chicago municipal election in 2011 the City of Chicago has redrawn their ward boundaries. The Mayor’s race is not expected to be close on Tuesday but it is expected that Mayor Emanuel will come very close to reaching or exceeding the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. I thought it would make sense to take the precinct level data from the 2011 Mayoral election and reconfigure those vote totals based on the new ward map. Some of the wards are similar to the 2011 map but some, such as the 2nd ward, are very different. I think it will be interesting to see how the Mayor’s 2015 numbers compare to his 2011 numbers and this will give a better apples to apples comparison.

Download 2011 Chicago Mayor by 2015 Ward Boundaries

I took the shapefiles for the 2011 citywide precincts and dumped that into some GIS software and ran an “Intersect” against the shapefiles for the current ward boundaries. I then used the percent of land area to assign a percentage to precincts that covered multiple wards. This is not exact for reasons I won’t bore you with but it’s pretty close. If you download the link above you’ll see a summary sheet with the data I just described as well as a worksheet that shows the precinct by precinct analysis and also there’s a sheet that shows the percentage of voters by race in each ward from census data. You may find any or all of that useful.

State of the Mayor’s Race

Both the City Clerk’s race and the City Treasurer’s race feature unopposed incumbents so the only actual citywide race is the Mayor’s race.

Thanks to the team at Aldertrack, this cycle’s indispensable daily must-read for all Chicago related election news, who teamed up with pollster Ogden & Fry for a regular tracking poll we have this graphic below showing how little traction the challengers have made.

Prior to the start of early voting the Mayor was polling in the low 40’s, undecided was in 2nd place in the low 20’s and the challengers were either in the teens or single digits. Since the first week of February when early voting started they have stopped offering undecided as an option and the Mayor is hovering right around 50% with his challengers well behind. Unless something really unexpected happens Emanuel will finish first on Tuesday and the main point of interest will be to see if he can beat the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. (Emanuel avoided a runoff in 2011 with 55.28% of the vote)

I am going to spend some time over the weekend looking at building a dashboard for the Mayor’s race. If I can make it work the way I hope I may turn it on for election night on Tuesday. I’m mainly interested in seeing in real time how the Mayor is doing against his runoff threshold and how each ward compares to his 2011 numbers. If I can build a straightforward easy to read dashboard that auto-updates every 2 minutes or so I’ll make it live and distribute the link. Keep an eye on the Illinois Election Data Twitter account @ILElectionData and I’ll try to let you know by Monday if I think I can do something for Tuesday night. (Why is there always a Hawks game on election night?)

Chicago Board of Elections Website

The Chicago Board of Elections already has live links to their 2015 Municipal election results in their Election Results section. If you go to their website then click on Election Results you’ll see that in the dropdown below you can select “2015 Municipal General – 2/24/15” as one of the options. From there you can select whatever race you want. None of the race pages have numbers yet, obviously, but it’s nice that the links are live and available so that you know where you can find the results when they’re available.

A note about Aldertrack: this group of political hobbyists have spent the last few months amassing a wealth of political information and making it widely available for little or no cost. You can buy their data-rich Racing Form for $10 (it’s actually currently free until election day but if you find it useful you should give them some money). Also you can sign up to receive a free daily email that includes original reporting, polling, reports from the field and a news roundup for all the Chicago races. I highly recommend.

At at time when news organizations are downsizing both Aldertrack and the also terrific Illinois Observer have been very welcome additions to the Illinois political news scene. I am not affiliated with either organization.