• Alex Nitkin
    JUL 22, 2021

    CPS, police department drag down Lightfoot’s approval as Pritzker remains popular in Chicago, Chicago Index poll finds

    The Chicago Police Department and Chicago Public Schools were among the least-popular city institutions identified in the latest Chicago Index quarterly poll. [Colin Boyle Block Club Chicago]

    Fewer than 40 percent of Chicagoans are satisfied with the performance of the city’s police department and barely one-in-four are happy with Chicago Public Schools, according to the latest quarterly findings of The Chicago Index poll sponsored by Crain’s and The Daily Line.

    The second-quarter survey results come as Mayor Lori Lightfoot has wrestled to keep control of the multibillion-dollar police and school systems, arguing that voters expect her to take ultimate responsibility for both institutions. The mayor opposed a bill in Springfield that is set to establish an elected Chicago school board, and she has insisted on maintaining veto power over any policy decisions reached by a civilian police oversight commission.

    But Lightfoot scored lower marks than either CPS or CPD, with 23 percent of Chicago-based survey respondents saying they “somewhat approve” or “strongly approve” of her job performance. The number represents an uptick from the first-quarter iteration of the survey, when just 16 percent of respondents gave her positive marks. 

    Related: Lightfoot ‘not surprised’ she and City Council scored poorly on inaugural Chicago Index survey 

    Overall, 75 percent of Chicago residents who responded to the survey said they believed the city is overall “off on the wrong track.”

    The full results and crosstabs are available online.

    The survey, conducted by national community engagement firm Polco, surveyed 812 respondents across Cook County. They were asked to register by ZIP code and disclose their race, sex, age and homeownership status. The resulting numbers were weighted to reflect the city’s demographics in all categories and had a 4.1 percent credibility interval.

    The results diverged sharply between city residents and respondents who live outside Chicago. The proportion of suburban respondents who positively rated their own alderman, county board President Toni Preckwinkle and their own county board commissioners were 61 percent, 59 percent and 56 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, 44 percent of city residents said they approved of their own alderman, 49 percent approve of Preckwinkle and 41 percent approve of their own county commissioner.

    Suburbanites also gave higher scores on a range of quality-of-life issues, including feelings of safety, conditions of streets and sidewalks, the natural environment and cultural opportunities. However, housing affordability scored poorly across the board, with 25 percent approval from city respondents and 26 percent from the suburbs.

    Gov. JB Pritzker‘s popularity was one of the only metrics that scored higher inside the city than outside. Sixty-six percent of Chicagoans said they approve of the governor, compared with 61 percent of suburban residents.

    Twenty-five percent of Chicago residents said they approve of the City Council, barely beating Lightfoot’s 23 percent rating. The numbers varied widely based on the part of the city in which respondents live. Sixty-eight percent of North Side and 58 percent of Far North Side residents said they approve of their own aldermen, compared to 20 percent on the Southeast Side and 41 percent on the Far Southwest Side. 

    Lightfoot scored highest among people who live in or around downtown, 32 percent of whom said they approve of the mayor’s job performance. She performed most poorly on the South Side and Far North Side, where 19 percent of respondents gave her positive scores. 

    The results also showed a wide gulf in approval among city departments and agencies. Chicago Public Schools got positive marks from 27 percent of city residents. The second-least popular agency was the Chicago Department of Housing with 32 percent, followed by the Department of Planning and Development with 37 percent and the police department with 38 percent. 

    The highest-rated institution was the Chicago Fire Department, of which 96 percent of city residents said they approved. It was followed by the Chicago Public Library system, with 91 percent approval, and the Chicago Park District with 80 percent.

    Survey respondents overall also cited improving Chicago Public Schools as their top priority. Ninety-two percent described “improving the performance of Chicago’s Schools” as “very important” or “essential.” 

    The next two highest-rated priorities were “investing in city infrastructure” and “reducing political corruption,” with 87 percent of respondents rating them as “very important” or “essential.”

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