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Where Are You, Neil Steinberg?

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Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times recently wrote a scathing article, "Carol, I Miss You Already."

The article cites a poll conducted by N'Digo on the mayoral race. The simplified poll queried, if the election were held tomorrow, which candidate would you vote for? The candidates included in the poll were: Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Danny K. Davis, Miguel del Valle, Rahm Emanuel and James Meeks. The poll was released on November 19th; Steinberg's article appeared on December 27.

The poll saw Braun in the lead with 27.4 percent of the vote, and Rahm Emanuel in second place, with 22.7 percent. Clearly, the N'Digo poll was a people's poll, and it was not scientific.

Steinberg charged that the poll was skewed:

"Moseley Braun received 27.4 of the vote, Rahm Emanuel had 22.7 percent," which wouldn't be bad if the opinions being gathered were collected from a representative slice of the city of Chicago. But they weren't. The sample being polled, N'Digo cheerfully explained, was overwhelmingly African-American women, most of them friends of the publisher.

Steinberg suggested that I called my girlfriends and asked that they support Carol, and nothing could be further from the truth. First and foremost, my personal support was for Senator James Meeks. Secondly, the poll was an online survey conducted via the N'Digo website, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. So, the poll results fairly represented those who took it: 72 percent reported themselves as Democrats; 59 percent were female, 60.3 percent were over 46 years of age; and 90.2 percent were African-Americans. The poll was not biased.

Steinberg spewed ridiculous insults about Blacks, and I regret Mr. Steinberg's negative (and somewhat racist) comments. He has announced Rahm Emanuel's win before the election. This is a repeat of what major media's performance was with Harold Washington. They missed it. Steinberg portrayed Chicago's Black community as "egomaniacal" with failed leadership. He marginalized the Black power structure with his claim of "magical thinking;" he even stated that Harold Washington had "mild success" during his tenure.

The reason I have been conducting the polls is because no media or institution surveys the Black community seriously. The political polls do not represent the Black community -- they do a poor job of polling the Black community. I am surveying polls to judge the accuracy of the polls and the pollsters after the election is over. Political polls are a tricky business and they are not always accurate, as polls depend on who is queried and when they are queried during a campaign.

I did such a poll at the onset of the Harold Washington campaign. I was teaching sociology and had students take the poll at churches, grocery stores and transportation points. The poll was taken early on; all of the major press sources maintained that Harold did not have a chance of winning. Our poll showed something different: our poll showed Harold wining. I kept the poll and after the election, and I shared the polls with Harold.

Our numbers were correct; we won.

I know that the polls by the most reliable sources are not always the most revealing; Chicago's major press misses the Black community. There is a consistent gap between what is being reported and the actual pulse of the people; that is the gap the N'Digo People's Poll fills.

This mayoral race is an important one; it is up for grabs and there are qualitative differences between the candidates. Each candidate comes with strengths and weaknesses. Still, the major media has made it a forgone conclusion that Rahm Emanuel is the next mayor of the City of Chicago.

This is why I am conducting another N'Digo People's Poll and I hope that all voting Chicagoans will take it. It is on my Facebook page. You can find it on WVON, or you can take the poll by clicking here.

The N'Digo People's Poll will close on January 3, 2011.