A WGN-TV/Emerson College poll of Chicago voters finds Mayor Lori Lightfoot with a 48% job approval rating at the 2-year mark since her inauguration in 2019. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters disapprove of her job as mayor, while 13% were unsure or had no opinion. In contrast, President Biden holds a 76% approval with 17% disapproval, and Governor J.B. Pritzker has a 64% approval and 24% disapproval among the same group of voters.

Lightfoot’s approval is highest among those aged 18-34 (64% approval), Hispanics (58% approval), and men (55% approval). Disapproval is highest among those aged 35-49 (57% disapproval) and whites (51% disapproval). 

When voters were asked if they consider Mayor Lightfoot generally honest or generally dishonest, a majority (61%) reported viewing Lightfoot as very or somewhat honest. Fifteen percent (15%) said somewhat dishonest, 17% said very dishonest, and 7% were unsure or had no opinion. White respondents were more likely to categorize Lightfoot as somewhat or very dishonest, at 39%, compared to African-Americans (28%) and Hispanics (26%).

Voters were asked to rate the job performance of Mayor Lightfoot on a variety of issues facing the city, using the options “excellent”, “good”, “fair”, and “poor”. 

Lightfoot’s rating was highest on her management of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a combined 64% rating her job as excellent or good. Twenty percent (20%) of voters rated Lightfoot’s management as fair, and 16% rated it as poor. 

A majority (51%) of voters also rated Lightfoot’s efforts to advance the economy as excellent or good, with a quarter (25%) rating it as fair, and 24% saying it has been poor. Regarding job growth – 46% rated Lightfoot’s job as excellent or good, while a majority (54%) rated it as fair or poor. 

A plurality (32%) of voters rated Mayor Lightfoot’s job on improving education as poor, while 24% said it has been fair, 29% said good, and 15% said excellent. Lightfoot struggles most with the 35-49 age group on this issue: 49% rate her job on improving education as poor.

On the issue of improving race relations in Chicago, a plurality (36%) rated Lightfoot’s job as poor, 24% said fair, 24% said good, and 16% rated her performance on this issue as excellent. African-American and Hispanic respondents rated Lightfoot’s job performance higher: 47% of African-Americans and 44% of Hispanics rated her job as excellent or good, compared to 38% of whites.

Crime and gun violence were the two lowest rated issues for Mayor Lightfoot. A plurality (42%) said that her job on handling crime has been poor, with an additional 23% saying it has been only fair. Thirty-five percent (35%) rated her job on crime as excellent or good. Regarding gun violence, a plurality (43%) said her handling has been poor, while 26% said it has been fair, and 31% say it has been excellent or good.

When asked the number one issue facing Chicago today, a plurality (38%) said crime. Twelve percent (12%) said police reform, 11% said healthcare, 10% said Covid-19, and 9% said housing and jobs, respectively. Groups that reported crime as the number one issue at a higher rate include those over the age of 50 (49%) and African-Americans (46%).

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling notes: “It is alarming to see crime as the top issue for 38% of voters in Chicago, even more so when compared to 20% saying crime is the top issue in our PIX11 poll of NYC last week.  However, despite crime being the top issue and the mayor having her lowest ratings on crime and gun violence, she enjoys a positive overall approval of +9 points, which suggests that other issues are more important to voters.”

Voters were asked if they view the Chicago Police Department positively or negatively. A majority (61%) said they had a very or somewhat positive view of the CPD, 17% had a somewhat negative view, 16% very negative view, and 6% were unsure or held no opinion. This issue correlated with age, as 72% of those 65 or older had a positive view of the CPD, compared to 63% of those 50-64, 53% of those 35-49, and 50% of those 18-34 years of age.

When asked if they favor civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Board, a majority (63%) said yes. Twenty-two percent (22%) said no, and 15% were unsure or had no opinion. 

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The WGN-TV/Emerson College Chicago poll was conducted May 31-June 1, 2021. The sample consisted of Chicago registered voters, n=1000, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, region, and race based on the voting-age population in Chicago (Census Reporter). It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, a cell phone sample of SMS-to-web, and an online panel.