Shrinking black vote to Rahm instead of Moseley Braun?

22 Feb

By Jennifer Schanz

Chicago’s minority voting demographics are changing, and nothing is more representative of this than the city’s mayoral election. But in looking at mayoral campaigns thus far, how much will the population of ethnic groups really affect this elections outcome?

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report published on Feb. 15, Chicago’s population has dropped 6.9 percent to 2,695,598, lower than the city’s population of 2.7 million in 1920. Of this reduction, the city’s black population has faced the most sufficient drop, going from 1,065,009 to 887,608.

One might assert this shift in population as the reason Carol Moseley Braun appears to be without the black vote, but this didn’t happen overnight, and it certainly hasn’t deterred the impact of the black voter base.

“The African-American community has a very high level of political participation, while the Hispanic community has a very low level,” said Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown. “All wards are supposed to be the same size in population, but the Hispanic wards always have the fewest registered voters and the lowest voter turnout. African Americans are still a much more formidable voting force.”

According to Brown, Braun’s inability to grasp the black vote has far less to do with population levels, and far more to do with the fact that the black voter base is aligning behind Rahm Emanuel.

“Carol Moseley Braun’s campaign is in trouble because she is losing the African-American vote to Emanuel, not because there are fewer African-Americans living in Chicago,” he said.

But African-Americans aren’t the only minority voters who have the power to the change this race. In fact, Hispanics may be the golden ticket to the mayoral throne, as the Hispanic population in the city has grown by 25,000 to 780,000.

With an increased population, the Hispanic community is well positioned for mobilizing a municipal influence. “…I’m sure the major Hispanic candidates were all hoping that with the increased voting strength of their own community behind them that they were well positioned to forge a multi-racial coalition,” Brown said.

Frontrunner Emanuel holds 34 percent of the Hispanic vote compared to Gery Chico’s 38 percent, according to one poll, and regardless of whether or not a runoff takes place in April, the Hispanic vote is slated to be a big weigh-in.

“So far, it appears that Emanuel was better positioned, but I don’t want to assume the outcome will be the same as what the polls have shown,” said he columnist.

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