Who will win the April 4 mayoral runoff?

The Daily Reader

For the last few weeks, I’ve been asking some of the best and brightest experts in Chicago politics to make a prediction.

Who will win the April 4 mayoral runoff: Brandon Johnson or Paul Vallas?

Not “Who do you want to win?” but “Who do you think will win?” As if you were a cold-hearted gambler placing a million dollar bet in Vegas.

I have to get really specific with my question because you’d be surprised by how many of the best and brightest experts will duck and dodge to avoid directly making a prediction.

And now I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the so-called experts—not just in politics but also in other areas, such as finance and sports. 

They don’t want to be wrong. Because if you’re an expert, you must be right. Otherwise, how can you call yourself an expert?

So when you ask them to make a direct prediction, they’ll lean this way, and lean that way, and offer up some this, that, and the other thing in such a way as to avoid saying anything meaningful at all.

That way they won’t be “wrong” should you replay their “prediction” after the election.

But when I finally pin them down, no ducking, no dodging . . . c’mon on now, answer the question . . . 

Well, the response varies.

If I ask a white Baby Boomer of the centrist persuasion—which politically speaking pretty much sums up that group, at least in Chicago—they will invariably predict Vallas.

They can’t imagine a lefty like Brandon Johnson possibly winning.  

Many are jaded because the seminal moment in their political lives is the presidential election of 1972, back before their idealism was crushed. When the man they loved, George McGovern, lost to Richard Nixon, the man they despised.

Ever since they think it’s naive to dream a lefty candidate can actually win. Especially in Chicago, where Mayors Daley and Emanuel beat lefties for years.

In fact, the only lefty ever elected mayor in Chicago was Harold Washington.

A tangent . . . white Boomers have interesting memories when it comes to the 1983 mayoral election. They swear up and down they voted for Harold Washington.

In this regard, they sort of remind me of Boomers who tell you they saw Hendrix at Woodstock. In reality, if all the white Boomers who claim to have voted for Harold Washington actually voted for him, Harold would have won in a landslide. Instead of barely eking out a win over Bernie Epton. 

In contrast, millennials of all races and ethnicities are much more likely to predict a Brandon Johnson victory. Especially if those millennials are lefties.

They can’t believe a Democrat-leaning city would elect as its mayor a man who spent the last two years playing footsie with the far right.

As for me, I vacillate on my predictions from day to day, depending on who I talked to last.

If it’s a Boomer, I predict Vallas. If it’s a millennial, I say Johnson.

It’s why talking politics with millennials is way more fun. Always leave the conversation feeling a little more hopeful about where we are heading.

🎙Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show 🎙

What Ben's Reading

  Freedom’s Dominion by Jefferson Cowie. Insightful explanation of how former Alabama Governor George Wallace changed politics by pleading to the sense of victimhood in white people.
 Debbie-Marie Brown: “Superheroes that look like me”
 Ben Joravsky on Paul Vallas’ obsession with high-stakes testing.

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Issue of
Mar. 9 – Mar. 22, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 11

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