Chicago mayoral election: How the vote breakdown could foretell who wins

Chicago begins counting votes for mayor on Tuesday night — a process that will continue for two weeks.

However, if either Paul Vallas or Brandon Johnson has a big enough lead, we may know who has won by the end of the night.

"Paul Vallas will have to lead by several points on election night in order to win," said political consultant Frank Calabrese.

For those who know where to look, early returns from places like the north lakefront's 44th ward and its neighbor the 32nd ward could foretell whether Chicago’s next mayor will be Johnson or Vallas.

"If Vallas is winning 44, Vallas is winning the Lake View area of 44 and 32 – especially if he wins big margins there – he wins. If those wards are close, or if Brandon Johnson wins those wards, it could be a long week," Calabrese said.


Another big factor to consider is in the first round of voting, mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day added about two full percentage points to Johnson’s total. That's why analysts say Vallas needs a significant lead on Tuesday night in order to credibly claim victory.

Wrapping up the final full day of campaigning, the candidates returned to their core messages.

"Obviously crime is the most critical issue. And, you know, filling the police vacancies, inviting police officers to return. And, as you can see, the Chicago Police Department is in fact doing that in a very aggressive way now," Vallas said.

Johnson focused on the political upside of his controversial, $800 million tax increase plan, promising a massive increase in spending on social services and public schools that he says, in the long run, would make Chicago safer.

"And so we're gonna generate the revenue to do that, because it's a matter of life and or death," Johnson said.

Election officials report vote-by-mail applications for the runoff have dropped by about six percent, compared to February’s first round. Still, it's likely that about 40,000 mail-in ballots will remain to be counted after Tuesday night.