Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stroger vs. Claypool: The Knockdown Round


According to election officials, turnout in the city of Chicago is expected to be light. The question they didn't answer was, just how light is light? Ninety percent of usual? Seventy five? And, how will this affect the race between Claypool and Stroger?

Stroger lead Claypool by ten points in last week's Tribune poll.(Stroger had forty seven percent, Claypool thirty seven, and fifteen percent were still undecided). Claypool leads by six points in the suburbs, and Stroger, by nearly twenty points in the city. So, outside the city of Chicago, Claypool was leading with about forty five percent. About two hundred thousand(206, 329, to be exact) suburban votes were cast in the last primary for Cook County board president. Among that group, Claypool would have about ninety thousand hard-core supporters, and Stroger, eighty thousand.

Nearly three hundred thousand(about 294,000)votes were cast in the 2002 Democratic primary from the city of Chicago. If turnout is ninety five percent of what it was then, we can expect about two hundred ninety thousand votes. If Stroger keeps his lead among city voters, he will pick up around one hundred sixty thousand. By the same token, Claypool has ninety thousand. Low turnout in the city helps Claypool, but he'll still have to pick up over sixty thousand more votes to turn the tide.

Can Claypool do it? If Stroger loses as much as five percent because of the stroke, then he'll have two hundred fifteen thousand votes to one hundred ninety five for Claypool. That narrows the President's lead to about 42.5 percent. That means Claypool will still need about 3/4 of the previously "undecided vote." If Stroger's blood vessels, god bless them, hadn't held out this long, then this could be very different. But, as it is, Claypool has had less than a week to respond to the new developments. Even if two thirds of the late deciders opt for him, and the aforementioned five percent leave the President's camp, Claypool will still have two hundred forty five thousand votes to his opponent's two fifty. Expect a narrow Stroger victory, fifty two percent to forty eight.

UPDATE: Rep. John Fritchey weighs in on the effects of low turnout.

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