Despite Chicago’s notorious struggles with political corruption, race relations and police reform, likely Chicago voters rank the quality of schools ahead of those problems as one of the top three issues facing the city.
Those were the findings of the latest mayoral election poll conducted by We Ask America, and first published in the Chicago Sun-Times. We Ask America polled about 640 likely voters from Jan. 21-23 about whom they prefer as Chicago’s next mayor and what they see as the city’s most pressing challenges.
More than one in five respondents ranked the quality of Chicago schools as the most important issue — ahead of political corruption, race relations and police reform. School quality was nearly neck and neck with “Chicago’s financial crisis,” and only 8 percentage points behind the biggest concern, crime.
Here’s a closer look at the results.
The poll also broke the responses down by respondents’ race and ethnicity.
Asian respondents ranked school quality as the biggest issue, with two in three naming it as their chief concern. At a meeting in January, a line of Chinatown residents urged the city’s school board to prioritize their request, since the last proposal — the conversion of National Teachers Academy into a high school — was blocked by a judge.
School quality was also the most important issue for Latinos, albeit at a much lower percentage of respondents, about 37 percent. Quality of schools was the second biggest issue for black Chicagoans behind crime. Meanwhile, white respondents were the least concerned about school quality.
The poll also found significant gender and age gaps when it came to school quality concerns.
Among respondents ages 18 to 34, school quality ranked just as important or more important than Chicago crime — the only age bracket to place so much priority on that issue. About 25 percent of women of all ages polled said school quality was their biggest concern compared with 17 percent of men.
The poll asked asked respondents which candidate they were most likely to vote for on Election Day. Toni Preckwinkle, Bill Daley, and Gery Chico led the pack, with Willie Wilson and Susana Mendoza right on their heels in what’s expected to be a highly competitive — and unpredictable — race.
Early voting starts Jan. 29. The general election is Feb. 26. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates will enter a runoff election that takes place April 2.