Brandon Johnson’s election this past April as Chicago’s new mayor has been hailed across the country as an electrifying victory by progressive Democrats. But a detailed analysis of vote tallies – one that I and Matthew Wilson of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois Chicago conducted – has found a startling gap in voter turnout along racial and ethnic lines in Chicago.
Our review of all 1,291 voting precincts throughout the city revealed that a mere 29 percent of registered Black voters and just 20.5 percent of registered Latinos cast a ballot in the April run-off, a far lower figure than the 61.1 percent of Chicago’s registered white voters who turned out. For Latinos, in particular, these figures become even more disturbing given that a significant percentage of Latinx resident aged 18 and over are either legal permanent residents or undocumented, and thus are ineligible to vote. Our analysis concluded that just 1 of every 10 Latinos over the age of 18 voted in this year’s Chicago mayoral runoff.
We further estimate that 54.4 percent of those Latinos who did participate cast their ballot for Johnson’s opponent Paul Vallas, as did more than 70 percent of Asian voters, but that Johnson achieved his slim victory by capturing 88 percent support from Black voters and a substantial minority – 34 percent – of white voters.
For more details on the racial and ethnic voting patterns in this election, how those trends compare to the historic 1983 victory of Harold Washington, and possible lessons to be learned from the data, see the full report here: New Great Cities Institute Report – “Chicago’s 2023 Mayoral Race: A Progressive Victory Amidst Shocking Low Turnout by Black and Latino Voters.”
Cover Photo by cottonbro studio.
Juan González is a Senior Fellow at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois Chicago and co-host of the radio/TV news show Democracy Now. He is the author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America and is a founding member and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.