Lightfoot won without winning a Black ward

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New data may shed more light on runoff race

By Erick Johnson

Lori Lightfoot beat 13 candidates and forced a runoff with political heavyweight Toni Preckwinkle without winning a single predominately Black ward, according to information released Wednesday by the Chicago Board of Elections.

The Crusader examined data from the city’s 18 Black wards, which produced four runoff races in an election that saw low voter turnout throughout the city. The Crusader viewed the election results of eight out of 14 mayoral candidates. Six out of the eight candidates examined are Black Candidates with the most votes in a predominately Black ward.

An analysis by the Chicago Crusader shows Preckwinkle captured five of the city’s 18 Black wards. In first place was Willie Wilson, who captured the remaining 13 Black wards, leaving Lightfoot with none.

Lightfoot and Preckwinkle are trying to become the city’s first Black female mayor. But in light of the latest election data, can Lightfoot do it without capturing the majority of the Black vote?

Among the 18 Black wards, Lightfoot received the highest number of votes in the 4th Ward, which ironically is where Preckwinkle lives. Preckwinkle still took that ward with 4,386 votes, which is 32 percent of the vote in the ward.

Overall, Wilson captured 28 percent of votes cast in all 18 Black wards. That is about 44,920 votes. Preckwinkle was second after capturing 27 percent of the Black electorate with 42,323 votes in Black Wards. Lightfoot finished third with 17 percent of the Black electorate or 26,983 votes.

Despite heavily courting the Black vote, Bill Daley failed to win a single Black ward as he captured only 11 percent (17,530) of the Black vote. Policy consultant Amara Enyia finished fifth in Black wards, capturing 10 percent (16,773) of the Black electorate. Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza finished 6th after capturing .49 percent (7.857) of votes in Black votes.

State Representative LaShawn Ford and Businessman Neal-Sales Griffin had the lowest percentage of the Black vote among the eight candidates. Both captured less than one percent of the total number of votes in the 18 Black wards.

The Black vote may be a critical component in the runoff race between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle. Both candidates have flaws that may turn off Black voters. But Preckwinkle may need the Black vote more than Lightfoot.

Lightfoot’s appeal and electability continues to grow among non-black voters, including the LGBT community, which turned out in droves to her election watch party in the Loop Tuesday evening. The fact that Lightfoot won Tuesday’s election without winning a single Black ward shows how strong her voter appeal is in the mayoral campaign.

There is also the question of which candidate will be endorsed by Wilson, whose dominating appeal in the Black wards could benefit either candidate. During a mayoral forum on WTTW in early February, Mendoza said the next best candidate in the mayoral race was Lightfoot. There is also the possibility that Preckwinkle’s negative image and disliked leadership style could push Wilson and other candidates to endorse Lightfoot.

Both candidates returned to the campaign trail on Wednesday shaking hands in the Loop. On Wednesday, Lightfoot and Preckwinkle went on WVON in separate interviews with radio host Cliff Kelly.

In Tuesday’s election, Lightfoot finished first with 17.4 percent. Preckwinkle got just over 16 percent. In the runoff race, analysts are predicting a 50 percent turnout; with 1.58 million registered voters, that means the winner will need almost 400,000 votes to win.

The mayor runoff will be held April 2.

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