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Preckwinkle, Mendoza favorites to face off in mayoral runoff, CFL poll shows

Mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza, left, in the Sun-Times newsroom last week. File Photo.| Rich Hein/Sun-Times; County Board President Toni Preckwinkle,right, speaks with the media on the first day of the filing period Monday. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Susana Mendoza (left) and Toni Preckwinkle are both affeced by the scandal engulfing Ald. Ed Burke and Ald. Danny Solis. | Sun-Times file photo

If the mayoral election was held today, Toni Preckwinkle and Susana Mendoza would make the runoff and Mendoza would win that Round 2 rather easily.

That’s the bottom line from a poll of 600 likely Chicago voters conducted earlier this month for the Chicago Federation of Labor.

From Dec. 4 to 9, ALG Research, a leading pollster for Democrats across the nation, took a snapshot of the crowded race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel before petition challenges narrow the field of 21 candidates.

Asked whom they would vote for if the election were held today, Preckwinkle came out on top with 21 percent of the vote. Mendoza was second with 16 percent.

That was followed by: Bill Daley (9 percent); Willie Wilson (8 percent); Garry McCarthy (7 percent); Dorothy Brown and Paul Vallas (both at 6 percent); Amara Enyia (5 percent); and Gery Chico (3 percent).

Voters were then asked to identify their second choice. Preckwinkle finished on top with 14 percent, followed by: Mendoza (13 percent); Daley (9 percent); McCarthy (8 percent); Vallas and Wilson (7 percent each); Lori Lightfoot, Chico and Brown (each at 6 percent); and Enyia (3 percent).

ALG then tested a series of head to head match-ups.

Although Preckwinkle comes out on top in the crowded field, Mendoza beats the County Board president one-on-one with 45 percent to Preckwinkle’s 39 percent.

Preckwinkle crushed Daley by a 51-to-32 percent margin. Mendoza did the same with 56 percent to Daley’s 29 percent. Mendoza also creamed Chico by a 58-to-23 percent margin.

Results didn’t vary much, even after positive descriptions of Preckwinkle, Mendoza, Chico and Daley. Preckwinkle and Mendoza made the runoff, with 22 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively. That was followed by Daley (12 percent); Wilson (7 percent); McCarthy (6 percent); Brown, Enyia and Chico (each at 4 percent); and Lightfoot (3 percent).

The positive “push” did impact the second choice. Mendoza finished first with 18 percent, followed by: Preckwinkle (15 percent); Chico (14 percent); Daley 11 percent; McCarthy (7 percent); Lightfoot and Vallas (6 percent apiece); Wilson (5 percent); Brown (4 percent); Enyia (3 percent) and Bob Fioretti (2 percent).

Head-to-head match-ups were impacted heavily by the favorable description. Mendoza and Preckwinkle ended up tied at 44 percent apiece with 12 percent undecided.

Preckwinkle and Mendoza still trounced Daley by margins of 50-to-34 and 56-to-32, respectively. And Mendoza still clobbered Chico with 58 percent to Chico’s 28 percent.

The pollster then tested two very negative scripts about Daley.

The scenario that attempted to tie Daley to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s marathon budget stalemate and battle “to end organized labor” was branded as a “very convincing” reason not to vote for Daley by 36 percent of those polled and “somewhat convincing” by 18 percent of those questioned.

The second negative push tried to link Bill Daley to the widely-despised parking meter deal by his brother, Mayor Richard M. Daley.

A whopping 47 percent of those polled found the slanted and, partially erroneous, narrative a “very convincing” reason to vote against Daley. Another 16 percent found it “somewhat convincing.”

Bill Daley once defended the parking meter deal with a mega-bank that employed his own son.

But he told the Sun-Times in late October that it was a big mistake and one of several “big differences” between his own style and the way his brother ran Chicago for 22 years.

“He did a lot of things wrong. He didn’t solve the pension problem. I gave you the headline,” Daley said then of his older brother, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor.

“He sold the parking meters. … The way they did it was absolutely a mistake. When he was faced with allegedly laying off 5,000 city employees, including police and fire, he looked for revenue. [But] they should have done it differently. … I would not do that deal.”

Bill Daley is trying to convince Chicago voters that his election would not be four years of the same, and the parking meter deal is an easy place to draw the line between brothers.

Not only is the deal widely despised and a symbol of the financial mess Richard M. Daley left behind, the crisis that Emanuel inherited was exacerbated by the former mayor’s decision to spend the proceeds to avoid raising property taxes, and investors got the better end of the deal.

Chicago’s parking meter system raked in $134.2 million last year, putting private investors on pace to recoup their entire $1.16 billion investment by 2021 with 62 years to go in the lease.

Chicago Federation of Labor is one of several labor groups that owns the Sun-Times. CFL President Bob Reiter is a Sun-Times board member.