The Democratic pollster to whom Rahm Emanuel once famously sent a dead fish on Thursday delivered the political version of a dead fish to the mayor’s doorstep: a poll that, Alan Secrest claims, shows Emanuel is unelectable.
The poll of 800 registered and likely Chicago voters—with a 3.5 percent margin of error — was conducted Jan. 23-through-Feb. 1 for former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. The limited results Secrest shared suggest why McCarthy jumped into the race against the mayor who fired him.
In a “one-on-one trial heat pairing,” Emanuel and McCarthy are in a “statistical tie,” Secrest said, refusing to reveal the specific numbers.
Emanuel and McCarthy were the only candidates to reach double-digits in a seven-way race that includes: former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas; County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; fired Chicago principal Troy LaRaviere, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin and businessman Willie Wilson, the poll showed, according to Secrest.
And McCarthy was the most frequently-mentioned second choice.
The bad news for Emanuel doesn’t stop there, according to Secrest’s polling memo shared with the Chicago Sun-Times.
It shows that Emanuel has a job performance rating of just 32 percent and a favorability rating of just 36 percent.
Asked to weigh in on Emanuel’s re-election without a named opponent, only 18 percent of those surveyed said they would “vote to re-elect him.” Another 34 percent said they would “vote to replace” Emanuel, while 38 percent said they would “consider someone else.”
An overwhelming 69 percent of those surveyed identified “having an honest or trustworthy city government” as a “major problem.” Sixty-nine percent also agreed with the leading statement, “Rahm Emanuel has not provided trustworthy and reliable leadership for our city.”
By a 4-to-1 margin, those surveyed said they feel “less safe” than they did two years ago.
Secrest said the bottom line for Emanuel is clear.
“Too often, political incumbents are like pro athletes. They just don’t know when it’s time to hang up the uniform. That’s the case here for Mayor Emanuel. It’s a fail at every turn. His time has passed. Somehow, he doesn’t realize that,” Secrest said.
Secrest was asked to pinpoint the reasons for what he calls Emanuel’s failed political comeback.
Is it violent crime, schools closings and the mayor’s decision to withhold the Laquan McDonald shooting video until after the 2015 election, when a judge ordered the city to release it? Or is it the political backlash from the avalanche of tax increases needed to solve Chicago’s $36 billion pension crisis?
“It’s like a multiple organ failure at the end of someone’s life. He struggled last time. This time, voters are saying, ‘I’m not gonna be fooled again.’ He is despised,” Secrest said.
“It’s time to hang up the uniform. If you don’t, you’ll lose or worse. You’ll embarrass yourself.”
Emanuel’s campaign spokesman Peter Giangreco was quick to try and discredit the McCarthy poll by smearing Secrest.
He’s the same pollster to whom Emanuel sent the dead fish as punishment for, what Secrest calls a “statistically irrelevant typo in a survey that was immediately corrected and had no bearing on the outcome of an election.”
“It’s hard to think of a pollster in the country who has less credibility than the one Garry hired. A simple Google search explains why,” Giangreco said, accusing Secrest of asking his political clients to pre-pay for polls, then going out of business in 2012 and failing to refund their money.
“Garry should have looked for quality rather than someone who shares his personal animosity when hiring his team. The mayor looks forward to the race ahead.”
McCarthy said Secrest’s poll puts the lie to conventional wisdom that says he has no chance to attract more than a handful of black voters because he ran the Chicago Police Department when now-indicted Officer Jason Van Dyke fired the sixteen shots that killed Laquan McDonald.
“All day long, people are stopping me and saying, ‘You’ve got my vote. You’ve got my vote.’ They don’t have to do that. … The vast majority of those individuals are African-American. It’s really amazing,” he said.
“People know what I was doing on the South and West Sides. And they know what happened since then. … There were 1,400 people murdered in the two-year period since I got fired. That’s simply inexcusable. African-Americans have suffered terribly from this administration. And I think they’re sick and tired of it.”
After claiming that he had McCarthy’s back for weeks, Emanuel fired him on Dec. 1, 2015.
The mayor claimed McCarthy had become a “distraction” in the furor that followed the court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
“He can’t escape his role in what happened here. Everybody knows that he’s got to wear that jacket and he’s doing everything he can to avoid it,” McCarthy said.