For Emanuel and Garcia, road to victory may run through black community

Looking ahead to the April 7 runoff between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a key question is who will pick up the three losing candidates’ voters — and from where?

Emanuel and Garcia would both be wise to pay attention to the city’s 18 majority-black wards, where, on average, more than one-third of voters picked someone else in the first election. That compares with just 20 percent of voters citywide.

As we noted last week, Emanuel’s support in those wards in this election dropped precipitously from the 2011 election. That year, Emanuel received a majority of the votes in all majority-black wards, based on ward maps that have since changed.

In 2015, the mayor’s share of the vote dropped by between 10 and 21 percentage points in majority-black  wards, based on data compiled by Scott Kennedy at Illinois Election Data. Kennedy translated 2011 results into the newly drawn 2015 wards, allowing for a better year-to-year comparison.

Garcia, however, didn’t do particularly well in the wards where Emanuel took the biggest hits.

In the three wards where Emanuel’s support fell by more than 20 percentage points, the 24th, 28th and 37th Wards on the West Side, Garcia garnered just 22 percent of the vote. That’s well below the 34 percent he won citywide. It’s also less than his average for all majority-black wards, where he won nearly 25 percent.

Those three wards, which cover most of Lawndale, Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park, are also the three wards in the city with the most votes up for grabs in the runoff — 2 in 5 voters in the 24th Ward chose someone other than Emanuel or Garcia. In other words, most of the votes that Emanuel lost seem to have gone to the other candidates, particularly businessman Willie Wilson, who won a larger share of the vote in those wards than in any other.

The maps below show the 18 majority-black wards in Chicago. The first, in red and orange, shades the wards based on the share of the vote that Emanuel lost from 2011 to 2015. The second, in green, shades the wards based on the percent of the vote that is still up for grabs. As you can see, many of the wards where Emanuel lost the most votes also have the most votes up for grabs.

Of course, much of this analysis depends on whether turnout changes dramatically on April 7.

Will Emanuel win back the votes he lost, or will Garcia win over the Chicagoans who voted for Wilson? Either way, these 18 wards may determine who takes City Hall in April.