Russ Stewart, a columnist I admire because he includes actual vote totals in most of his analysis, predicts a 55-45 Claypool victory over Stroger for Cook County Board President.
His column is here.
Stewart remarks here:
Stroger won the 1994 primary with 47.1 percent of the vote, largely because of a huge black vote but also supplemented by a sizable vote produced in white wards by committeemen allied with Daley. Stroger got 82.3 percent of the vote in the 20 black-majority wards. In white-majority areas, he got 26.4 percent of the vote on the Northwest Side, 33.4 percent on the Southwest Side, 39.5 percent on the Lakefront and 34.7 percent in the suburbs.
So, the Stroger campaign needs to improve upon the 1994 results, because there's only one candidate in the 2006 race, not two, and clearly one needs 50% of the vote to win.
There isn't much upside potential in the black vote for Stroger. It's my impression he has already maxed that one out.
As Laura Washington put it in the Sun-Times a few weeks ago (butchering her a bit): "the mood in the hood is that once an office goes black, it never goes back."
Not exactly a policy declaration, but pretty clear nonetheless.
However, with Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson Jr. both officially neutral in the race, there's some potential for some black votes to move to Claypool's camp.
In order for that to happen, however, Claypool has to somehow deliver the message that cutting the bloated bureaucracy results in more services, not less.
It's a hard message to get through, not because it is inaccurate, but because it is counterintuitive.
And Claypool needs a black messenger to deliver the message to black voters. So far, there haven't been many takers.
Maybe Cook County smokers (led by their champion, Eric Zorn...) who will face another $1.00 increase in their pack of smokes thanks to a new budget passed this month (which Claypool and Quigley and the 5 GOPers voted against), can help fuel a Claypool revolt.
Claypool's campaign website is here and I can't find a Stroger site.