CHICAGO — Many pundits framed the mayor runoff election as a choice between a candidate who promised to bolster law enforcement verses someone who is the past supported defunding the police. But Chicagoans voters looked deeper.
In a city plagued by fears of crime, the progressive triumphed over the tough-on-crime candidate.
Brandon Johnson’s win over Paul Vallas defied conventional wisdom but a closer examination of voters’ views offers clues about the upset election.
A survey conducted by GQR and Vera Action on the eve of the election found that Chicagoans overwhelming support policies to address the root causes of crime. Six in 10 voters chose prevention compared to four in 10 who back a tough on crime strategy.
“Voters have a very nuanced perception about public safety and about what gets us to public safety in every community across a city as complex as Chicago,” ACLU of Illinois’ Communications Chief Ed Yohnka said.
During the campaign, Vallas vowed to increase the number of police while Johnson promoted a platform to make CPD more efficient. Asked the most effective solution to crime about a third of voters chose increased mental health/drug treatment compared to 18% who favor hiring more police.
“It was never a binary choice of in the way that it was sometimes portrayed. I think there was kind of an easy one’s tough on crime, one’s not,” Yohnka said. “At the end of the day people kind of piece through the easy labels and actually look at what kind of policies are going to get us to enhanced public safety.”
The poll also shows voters vary in their opinion about what’s driving crime: 39% said too many guns, 29% lack of access to mental health, and 32 % said release on bail for violent offenses.
It turns out that you can spend a lot of money sorta trying to paint this picture of black and white but people still see grey. And they see that I would argue at least largely because these are the people in the communities they’re living in. They know what the issues are in their communities, and they know that they’re aren’t necessarily solved by just more policing, that there are other underlining needs that just have to be met.
People who favor this more nuanced approach to public safety have placed their bets on Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson.