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Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference in Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference in Chicago on Feb. 1, 2023.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

Poll: Lightfoot could miss runoff in Chicago mayoral race

If no candidate wins the majority of the vote later this month, the top two finishers move onto a runoff.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot finds herself bunched together in a crowded field ahead of this month's mayoral race, raising the specter of her possibly missing out on the likely runoff.

The new poll sponsored by Northwestern University's Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, as well as a handful of other non-profits, finds Lightfoot in third place with 14% support from registered Chicago voters (when those who say they are leaning one way are included).

That puts the incumbent mayor behind former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas (19%) and Democratic Rep. Chuy García (17%), and in front of businessman Willie Wilson (12%) and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (9%), as well as others in the field. But 12% say they're undecided (even after being pushed to pick the candidate they're leaning toward supporting), and the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%, which means the race is a jump ball.

Garcia is pulling support from 40% of Latino voters (the only other candidate in double digits is Vallas with support from 13%); Lightfoot is winning the plurality of Black voters (23%); and Vallas has support from the plurality of white voters (25%).

If no candidate wins a majority later this month, which is likely considering the split field, the top two candidates will move onto a runoff.

Lightfoot is the only candidate tested who has an unfavorable rating higher than her favorable rating, a net favorable rating of -10%. Garcia's net favorable rating is +29%, Vallas' is +31%, Wilson's is +33% and Johnson's is +22%.

The poll surveyed 643 registered Chicago voters by cell phone, email and online panels with a 3.9% margin of error. The poll was conducted in both English and Spanish between Feb. 5 and 10.