A private poll taken in mid-November shows Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. in a competitive position to challenge Mayor Richard Daley if, in fact, the Congressman wishes to do it. The in-depth survey, taken by Lake Research Partners, shows the Congressman in a strongly competitive position, which would certainly be taken into account as he makes a final decision to run for Mayor in 2007. Jackson has almost nothing to lose by running since the mayoralty election comes in the middle of his congressional term. There was a significant number of slippage in the poll which is deemed not good for an incumbent. After a series of questions, 26 percent said Daley was doing just fair.
A portion of the poll that can be released shows Daley ahead of Jackson which veteran observers agree is not unusual given the Daley prominencebut with the numbers in flux. A key question has Daley significantly under 50 percent approvala major weakness in a longstanding incumbency. Almost 38 percent want to see Daley reelected but an almost equal number32 percentwould consider someone else. The two are just about head-to-head in job approval and disapproval. Sixty-one percent approve the job Daleys doing with 36 percent disapproving. Sixty-five percent approve of the job Jacksons doing with 27 percent disapproving. The closeness of the Daley-Jackson numbers signifies that the mayoralty is by no means a slam-dunk for Daley when he is paired with the young, well-known Congressman. Veteran poll-watchers cite what they call a dynamic statisticthe fact that news about City Hall is making Daley appear less favorable to 45 percent compared to only 9 percent more favorable. With ongoing federal probes into the Daley administration, less favorable news is exceedingly likely to surface in the next year.
Jackson tops Daley on his feel for ethics (24-17), on standing up for what he believes (31 to 24) with a plurality of respondents believing that Jackson will fight corruption better than Daley (42-30). Jackson trounces Daley on perceptual issues, with a heavy plurality believing Daley is too tied to political cronies (52), too arrogant (41), too tied to special interests (41). Fifty-nine percent felt the following statement about Daley was convincing: If Mayor Daley were not aware of scandals in his administration, he was negligent. Sixty-two percent identified with the thought that corruption under Daley is out of control. Fifty-one percent felt convincing the argument that the scandals have distracted Daley and rendered him no longer effective. Fifty-three percent feel that either ineptitude or corruption in the Daley administration signifies the need to get Chicago moving again. Fifty-eight percent agree that Chicago is becoming like other big cities, where people `pay to play. Thirty-nine percent believe Jackson should run for mayor while 24 percent do not with a hefty margin of 27 percent not sure.
The list of concerns Chicagoans feel seems to tilt in Jacksons favor. Education and schools tops the list (with 23 percent), followed by corruption in government (11 percent) and crime and drugs (10 percent). Probably the most significant portion of the poll shows a high percentage of favorability for Rep. Luis Gutierrez59 percent. Contrary to some misconception, the trend of Hispanic voters is to side with the regular Democratic candidate vis Daley. . Were Gutierrez to run in a three-way race, votes would likely be taken from Daley which would topple the long-entrenched incumbent. Gutierrez has been alternately a critic of and supporter of Daley. Most recently he has engaged in a spat with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Il), a prime Daley fixture who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee, alleging that Emanuel has advised marginal Democratic congressmen to oppose immigration measures so as to shore up their base, a charge Emanuel weakly and not entirely convincingly answered.