Chicago mayoral race: New poll shows dead heat between Johnson and Vallas

With one week left until Chicago's mayoral runoff election, a new non-partisan poll released Tuesday shows a neck-and-neck race to the April 4 finish line.

The poll of 1,500 registered Chicago voters was conducted March 15-23 by BSP research for Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy and a coalition of Black and Hispanic non-profits. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

The poll showed a race that is evenly split between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, with each candidate earning 44% of the overall vote. The poll found 12% of voters still remain undecided.


Of those polled, 55% of Black voters and 35% of Latino voters favored Johnson, while 28% of Black voters and 46% of Latino voters favored Vallas, according to the study.

The poll also found registered white voters are the most split between candidates, with 51% voting for or leaning toward Vallas and 42% for Johnson.

According to the study, one-third of Latinos believe Vallas may be Latino.

"The wild card on April 4th is the Latino vote. And neither candidate appears to have a lock on this electorate. Yet, turnout will be critical given the Latino share of undecideds," said Jaime Dominguez, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern.

"Even if one-third of Latino voters think that Vallas is a coethnic, the Latino vote is still a very diverse and multi-dimensional collective so targeted outreach efforts will be critical in the coming days."

Also, 43% of voters surveyed said they had not been contacted by a mayoral campaign to ask them to vote.

Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of Hispanic Federation, said both candidates still have time to influence the election by reaching out to their constituents.

"The fact that 47% of Latino voters and 46% of Black voters reported not being contacted to mobilize their vote sheds a powerful light on the need to encourage our communities to show up at the ballot box," Miranda said.

"This latest poll once again demonstrates that voters of color are a coveted and influential demographic that have the power to decide elections, but they must be persuaded about why voting matters in their lives and why they need to show up to the polls," said Nathalie Rayes, president and CEO of Latino Victory Project.

The poll found that reducing crime is the most important issue, with 50% of registered voters saying it is an important issue. Likewise, 49% of Latino, 53% of Black and 50% of white voters cited crime as the most important issue.

After crime reduction, 30% of Black voters said police reform was the second-most important issue, while 35% of Latinos and 30% of white voters suggested it's the rising cost of living.

The poll also found that among voters who supported Mayor Lori Lightfoot, 41% said they will support Johnson and 22% said they will support Vallas. Among those who support U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, 38% indicated they would vote for Vallas and 34% for Johnson.

Lastly, the poll showed that Black and Latino voters feel they have a lot in common. Of those polled, 75% of Latino voters and 73% of Black voters said they had a "great deal or a fair amount in common."