Chicago mayoral election: New poll shows Lightfoot trailing Garcia, Vallas

A new voter opinion survey suggests Mayor Lori Lightfoot would come in third if the Feb. 28 election were held today. 

That would eliminate the first-term incumbent from competing in any April runoff election.

Chicago-based M3 Strategies asked 440 likely voters, "If the election for mayor of Chicago were held today, who would you be most likely to support?"

Congressman Chuy Garcia won 28 percent; former Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Paul Vallas was at 19 percent; Mayori Lightfoot was at 15 percent and businessman/philanthropist Willie Wilson was at 13 percent. Other contenders were in single digits.

Given the survey’s margin of accuracy, the results indicate Vallas, Lightfoot and Wilson are locked in a three-way battle for second place.

Garcia's status as a clear, early front-runner echoes another separate poll done in mid-November. It was paid for by Local 150 of the International Operating Engineers Union and released this week. It was conducted by Impact Research, which has worked for President Joe Biden and other Democrats.  

On Wednesday, Lightfoot claimed it’s too soon for such surveys.


"Four years ago at this time, polling showed I was at about one percent. And, you know, there were bigger names in, more money. And, here I sit," said Lightfoot.  

"The difference between four years ago and now is that nobody knew who [Lightfoot] was [in 2019]. She didn't have any negatives. If you polled that, most people would say they had never heard of her, had no opinion," said M3’s pollster Matt Podgorski.

Now, Podgorski noted, 98 percent of Chicagoans have opinions about Lightfoot. Nearly 74 percent are unfavorable; fully 49 percent say very unfavorable.

MORE: Chicago mayoral candidates attack Chuy Garcia as he leads in new poll

As part of her campaign’s effort to change that, the mayor this week began airing a new spot about her working-class upbringing in the small town of Massillon, Ohio.

In the commercial, the 60-year-old mayor’s voice chokes, and she appears to tear up as she says, "I wouldn't be sitting here but for the sacrifices that my parents made for me, particularly my mom."

M3 found Garcia viewed favorably by 58 percent of likely voters, and unfavorably by 26 percent. The numbers for vallas: 39 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable.

The M3 strategies survey was conducted on Dec. 11-13.  It is accurate to within plus or minus 4.65 percentage points. Earlier this year, M3 strategies was paid $4,200 by Wilson’s campaign fund.

Full details on the survey can be found in the PDF below: