Two new polls released over the weekend contained bad news for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as he begins to ramp up the fundraising efforts for his re-election campaign.
According to a poll commissioned by the Chicago Sun-Times and conducted by We Ask America, Karen Lewis -- the outspoken Chicago Teachers Union president who has said she is "seriously thinking" about running for the city's top office -- would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points, with 45 percent support compared to the mayor's 36 percent, if the city's Feb. 24 mayoral election were held right now.
Meanwhile, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle would top Emanuel in the election by 24 percentage points -- with 55 percent support compared to Emanuel's 31 percent -- if she were to challenge him and if the election were held today. Preckwinkle has repeatedly said she is running for re-election to her current post in November, but she has yet to officially rule out running for mayor in 2015.
Among black voters, who broadly supported Emanuel in the 2011 election but have largely had a change of heart since then, Lewis and Preckwinkle's hypothetical edges over the mayor swell to about 18 and 30 percentage points, respectively. African-American voters said they were alienated by last year's mass public school closings, which had a disproportionate impact on low-income black neighborhoods on the city's south and west sides.
The mayor's office called the poll results "laughable," while Lewis said she was "stunned" to learn the numbers. We Ask America is an "independent polling subsidiary" of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, and its poll was conducted via automated phone calls made to 1,037 registered Chicago voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.04 percentage points.
A separate poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research and obtained by Crain's Chicago Business also showed Emanuel coming up short in a hypothetical re-election showdown. The poll found that Emanuel would lose to Preckwinkle if the election were held now, although the margin in this poll was just 8 percentage points -- 48 percent support for Preckwinkle versus 40 percent for Emanuel, with a 4.4-point margin of error.
Lewis' name was not included in the Anzalone Liszt poll.
Anzalone Liszt is a major Democratic polling firm that conducted polling work for the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns, among other clients. It conducted the Chicago mayoral poll for the Teamsters Joint Council 25, which endorsed Emanuel in 2011 and, Crain's notes, is expected to do so again for Emanuel's re-election bid.
Emanuel served as President Barack Obama's chief of staff from 2009 to 2010.
Notably, the Anzalone Liszt poll took place prior to Chicago's bloodiest weekend of the year so far, while the We Ask America poll was conducted afterward.
Lewis, who organized the city's historic teacher strike in 2012 and drew notice the following year when she labeled Emanuel the "murder mayor," quipped to the Chicago Reader in May that she believed Bozo the Clown could beat the mayor next year.
For his own part, Emanuel lashed out at Lewis during a private meeting in 2011 -- reportedly yelling, "F--- you, Lewis!" during a heated conversation about extending Chicago's school days by 90 minutes.
While some individuals with relatively low name recognition have announced they are running for mayor in 2014, including former Alderman Robert Shaw and community organizer Amara Enyia, many pundits have questioned whether these candidates can present a serious threat to Emanuel and his ever-growing war chest.