Friday, September 11, 2009

Stroger poll results not so surprising

Usually, I detest having to write about political polls.

Not because of some high-minded opposition to taking poll results and over-exaggerating their significance. But because the newsgathering organizations I have worked for throughout the years were usually cheap and wouldn’t pay for such studies.

SO WRITING ABOUT a poll meant giving free publicity to some other news shop. What’s the point?

But the Chicago Tribune this week published a story about their latest poll – one that is meant to make Cook County Board President Todd Stroger look less popular than Rod Blagojevich.


They have him with a 10 percent favorable rating, which is lower than the poll the Tribune took last year that had Blagojevich (still governor then) with only a 13 percent favorable rating.

THE THING TO keep in mind is that polls are very fluctuating. It is possible to construct a poll that can back up just about any conclusion. I remember just a few days after the Tribune’s 13 percent approval rating for Blagojevich, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch came up with their own poll that put Blagojevich closer to about 30 percent approval.

Still awful, but nowhere near as historic as the Tribune level.

So is it possible that someone could come up with a poll that would not make Stroger look as dismal? Of course it is.

Could it be that the Tribune, as part of its editorial crusading, would like to see Stroger taken down and would use this tidbit as part of its evidence in its reporting in the future? Yes, it is possible.

IN FACT, GO into the African-American community of Chicago, and you will find people who are convinced it is the establishment press that is out to get Stroger and is publishing content meant to make him look foolish and trivial – all so that he will lose the Feb. 2 primary election.

I don’t know if I quite buy into that, but I will go so far as to say that the people who oppose Stroger most vehemently have an absurd notion of themselves as the “good guys” taking on a corrupt, venal person.

Actually, I should take back that corrupt, venal part. Stroger’s critics tend to think of him as more incompetent than plotting.

In fact, there’s really only one part of the Tribune’s poll that catches my interest – the part about his support in the African-American community.

THE NEWSPAPER CONTENDS that a slight majority of African-American people oppose Stroger, and that only about one-fifth approve of his job performance. The remaining one-third are in the various categories of not quite sure what to think of Stroger.

I always wondered if Stroger’s best chance at winning a primary would be if he became the candidate whose presence on the ballot ensured that there’d be at least one younger African-American official on the Democratic ticket (at age 75, Jesse White as Secretary of State is too old to fill that role) come November 2010.

So are we destined to see a primary next year where the four African-American candidates split up the vote, making it possible for the lone white guy (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O’Brien) to win?

State Sen. (and Rev.) James Meeks, D-Chicago, seems to think so, telling WBEZ-FM that he seriously hopes one or more of the black candidates drops out of the race – although none thus far have indicated any willingness to do so.

I HAVE ALWAYS believed that the vehemence to Stroger was due solely to the circumstances under which he got elected – his father, John, became ill and had to be replaced on the ballot.

So no one ever got to challenge Todd Stroger in an election. He got the benefits of incumbency handed to him.

If it reads like I’m saying some people were determined to put the most negative spin on anything Stroger did, regardless of what he did, so they could dump on him come the 2010 elections, then you’re reading me correctly.

If anything, that is why logic gets (to use the old cliché) thrown out the window when it comes to the sales tax charged in Cook County.

BECAUSE THE EXPLANATIONS given by Stroger and his supporters about how the county’s portion of the tax is minimal (the state gets more than half of it) and how the money is desperately needed to maintain county government programs – particularly those that impact the public health – are totally logical.

But who wants to hear logic when it comes to Todd Stroger? It seems that he brings out the “lynch mob” mentality of some people – Get the bum! Take him down! Worry about the reason why afterward.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Is Todd really lower than Rod when it comes to our local political people (,0,522197.story)? And for those of you Simpsons fans out there, the answer is, No. I am not talking about Ned Flanders’ sons.

I’m sure Dorothy Brown, Danny Davis and Toni Preckwinkle all see no reason why they should be the one ( to step aside to try to save Todd Stroger’s political hide.

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