Monday, February 23, 2015

Who will win? It all depends on who bothers to turn out Tuesday to vote

I’m not about to predict how the mayoral election will turn out on Tuesday.

My gut feeling says it shouldn’t be a surprise if Rahm Emanuel manages to come up with a bare majority – enough votes to win re-election outright, rather than have to go through a run-off come April 7 against whoever manages to finish in second place on Tuesday.

THEN AGAIN, THE number of people who are detested by the very thought of another Mayor Emanuel term could be just enough that we have to go through another election just over a month from now.

Which is something that many voters in Chicago will have to do anyway, because there are several wards in the city that have competitive aldermanic races. Some people are going to have to vote a second time to decide their City Council representation; why not hit them up to cast another mayoral vote on that date as well?

Back a few days ago, I pointed out how poor the totals were for people deciding to cast their ballots at early vote centers. Evidence that the electorate probably wasn’t getting all worked up over this election cycle – despite the hostile Rahm rhetoric expressed by a few.

Although I feel a need to point out that the final few days of early voting (which ran through Saturday) saw a flood of people.

THE CHICAGO BOARD of Elections indicated nearly 90,000 people casting early ballots for Tuesday’s election, compared to just over 73,000 who voted early in the 2011 mayoral election cycle that first gave us “Mayor Emanuel.”

Although I can’t help but note that the early voting totals for the November 2014 elections for governor were also higher than the previous gubernatorial cycle in 2011. Yet that didn’t translate into higher voter turnout overall.

Overall, the percentage of registered voters who bothered to cast ballots was something along the lines of 42 percent – which stinks. It would seem to be that the people who passionately cared about whether Gov. Pat Quinn or Bruce Rauner would be elected cast their votes early.

Could that be the same factor at work, where the people who are all outraged have already expressed themselves – leaving it to the apathetic masses of our electorate to decide this political post with their lack of activity on Tuesday?

THERE WERE MANY candidates working the streets this weekend – trying to make one last push to persuade people to vote for them. My own favorite involved the South Side Irish Parade’s fundraising event.

Candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia had special “Chuy for Mayor” buttons designed – green and white with shamrocks that would have been totally in character for an Irish-inspired politico trying to gain some support.

For all I know, Emanuel could take about 48 percent of the vote on Tuesday, with Garcia coming in second – even though Willie Wilson’s African-American-oriented campaign is trying to get us all to believe that a surge of black votes will be enough to allow him to be “Number Two” and the other candidate in an April run-off.

Many political observers are desperate for an April run-off because they think it will provide the competitive campaigns and electioneering that this election cycle hasn’t provided thus far.

ANYTHING TO TURN this snooze-fest of an election into something memorable or exciting, is the way they feel.

It’s possible, I suppose, even though I’m skeptical.

It’s just that I’m not inclined to believe the supporters of the various Emanuel challengers are capable of uniting behind each other after Tuesday. “Anybody But Rahm” may turn out to be sitting on their behinds come another Election Day.

And if people do decide not to bother voting, then they deserve whatever political leadership we all wind up with at City Hall come May.


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