If Rahm Emanuel enters the race to replace Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, he could be the instant leader, according to a very preliminary poll from Springfield, Illinois-based polling firm We Ask America.
Emanuel was the clear leader in a survey that asked about 10 candidates, selected from over 40 potential aspirants that have been mentioned publicly, with more than double the support of his nearest competitor, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Here are the results, in order:
Rahm Emanuel - 29.68%
Tom Dart - 13.66%
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. - 13.36%
Rep. Luis Gutierrez - 12.81%
Rev./state Sen. James Meeks - 8.21%
Former U.S. Commerce Sec. Bill Daley - 8.16%
Alderman Ed Burke - 6.31%
Alderman Bob Fioretti - 2.95%
Chicago Transit Authority Chairman Terry Peterson - 2.55%
Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan - 2.30%
We Ask America polled 2,365 Chicagoans for the automated poll, noting that its selection of potential candidates was less than scientific. "THIS IS FOR FUN," the firm notes on its website.
The poll does not include a margin of error, and the names were not rotated in the automated interviews. The full slate of candidates was listed alphabetically, then respondents were asked in the same order whom they would support.
We Ask America COO Gregg Durham made it clear that his firm didn't take this poll too seriously. They conducted it not for a client, but out of their own interest.
"It was a first-shot thing and mostly for fun," Durham said, while assuring me the methodology was sound. "We did it as a flier to see what the results would be."
A note about the significance of early public-opinion polling in the Chicago mayoral race: it may not matter as much who leads in an early poll, before candidates are announced. The Daley political network is expected to have an impact on who actually wins; if another candidate wins the backing of key players across the city, Emanuel's preliminary lead may not hold.