Rahm Emanuel acknowledged yesterday, for the first time, that Tuesday's mayoral election may require a run-off. Trends and some common sense analysis of the polling data and the last week of the campaign suggest the usual tightening of the race. That is, Carol Moseley-Braun's free fall may have stabilized in the last week and she is likely to at least be in double digits on Tuesday. Most would agree that del Valle had his best televised debate on ABC-7 on Thursday night and may have picked up a point or two. Chico has continued his upward trend in the last few weeks, notwithstanding the slight snafu from his union supporter, Jim Sweeney, labeling Rahm a Wall St. Judas. Further, Rahm took quite a few whacks on so-called Hispanic and Black issues at the last televised debate. So Rahm, who appeared to have surpassed the 50% hurdle, is likely to fall slightly short.
Emanuel's financial advantage, as of the end of the year
That highlights the importance of whether Chico can compete in a one on one with Rahm. Taking a look at the money match-up, Rahm Emanuel will come out of Tuesday's election with a big advantage, but not as big as the one he has had for the last four months. As of the end of the year, Rahm had roughly four times the cash on hand of Chico, $8 million dollars to $2 million. Rahm, during that time period, had outraised Chico, 12 million dollars to less than 3 million for Chico.
New campaign contribution limits help Chico
But, as the Chicago Tribune reported a few days ago, Chico has become much more competitive with Rahm in fund raising since the new Illinois legislation capping certain campaign contributions went into effect on January 1, 2011. Chico raised 1.1 million dollars to Rahm's 1.5 million dollars (excluding contributions of less than $1000, which will not be reported until much later this year).
2011 Campaign contributions to Rahm and Chico
During the last week of campaign contribution reports (Feb. 11-Feb. 17), Rahm has outraised Chico by approximately 475 K to 275 K. That is almost double the advantage in percentage terms of that for the six week period analyzed by the Tribune report. On the other hand, Chico reports receiving 50K each from the Construction and General Laborers Union and Local 150 of the IUOE on February 16 (both presumably PACs), so perhaps he has had a bit of a surge of his own from union PACs which could continue during the run-off period. Of course, Emanuel, who received quite a few 50K and 100K campaign contributions before the limits were imposed, apparently can still obtain some of those (AT&T Illinois Employee PAC, 50K, Feb. 14, 2011).
Rahm's financial advantage in a Mayoral runoff
We don't have the expenditure reports for the last six weeks by the campaigns, but we expect Chico will exhaust his funds and Rahm could easily have 2 million dollars cash on hand (or more) to start the April 5, 2011 run-off. Using the first six weeks of this year as a model, we might expect Rahm to raise another 1.5 million dollars and Chico another 1.1 million dollars. Putting those numbers together would mean that Rahm would have $3.5 million dollars to spend and Chico 1.1 million dollars over the next six weeks.
That is quite a financial disadvantage for Chico to overcome. Further, if Rahm gets 48% to Chico's 28% on Tuesday, Chico will have much more work to do to keep all his voters and turn Braun, del Valle, Walls and Watkins voters into Chico voters. Of course, if Rahm agrees to three televised debates, since they will be one on one-- Chico should have an opportunity to develop some game changing positions and issues. In short, for money and other reasons, if Chico gets his runoff, he will have his work cut out for him, once again.