Near-record low turnout in first round of Chicago municipal election


Near-record low turnout in first round of Chicago municipal election

Alexander Fangmann

2 March 2019

Chicago completed the first round of municipal elections on Tuesday, with former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Democratic Party boss Toni Preckwinkle emerging from a 14-candidate field that attracted less than 541,000 voters, just a third of registered voters in the city. The two front-runners, both of whom are black women, ran campaigns based on identity politics in order to obscure their right-wing policies.

The near-record low turnout reflects widespread disgust with Democratic Party rule in the city, especially among youth, who largely abstained from voting. Among those who did vote, there were signs of a shift to the left, particularly in the defeats suffered by candidates for mayor and alderman who were regarded as stalwarts of the political establishment and the success of candidates tied to or endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) or the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

According to unofficial results from the Chicago Board of Elections, 540,784 people voted in the municipal primary, out of a total of 1,581,755 registered voters—a turnout of only 34.19 percent. The election only narrowly avoided the lowest turnout on record—33 percent, set in 2007, when Richard M. Daley faced two relatively weak challengers.

Breaking down the election results, it is clear that neither Lightfoot nor Preckwinkle was able to garner any genuine mass support. Lightfoot, who came in first, received only 93,580 votes, or 17.43 percent of the total. Preckwinkle won just 86,181, or 16.05 percent. Coming in third and failing to make the runoff was Bill Daley, who got 78,955 votes, or 14.7 percent.

The political establishment expected Daley, the son and younger…

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