Rahm Emanuel brought considerable assets to the race
when he announced for Chicago Mayor, but what he didn’t
have was early support. Early polling showed Rahm more than
25 points below the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff.
Getting to 50% in a diverse multi-candidate field would be a
tremendous challenge for any campaign but the
campaign set that very goal.


Analysis of past elections and the electorate suggested the clearest path to 50% was
capturing the African-American vote, a challenge considering the diverse field that included
former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun.

Ultimately the campaign would target mailings to four different mail universes, including
solid persuasion targets amongst Latino and blue-collar white voters and two different
African-American universes — a key part of the campaign’s communications strategy.

Vote Early Program

A “vote early” mail program, enhanced by phone contact and canvassing, was targeted to
younger voters, higher educated voters, and certain female voters who solidly supported
Rahm in order to bank a portion of these strong supporters early to allow the campaign to
focus on persuadable voters.

Through our partnership with Bully Pulpit Interactive, the campaign was able to integrate
online communications into the “vote early” program, using the online outreach to build its
lists and push an early vote message.

Because the campaign team wasn’t
separated into silos, the television
campaign was able to coordinate with the
mail and the digital campaigns to deliver
comprehensive message communications,
and when necessary time a positive
message on the airwaves with a tougher
edge in the mail to get a jump on
responding to attacks.

Despite being the only campaign
targeted for negative communications
by all other candidates, Rahm Emanuel
won in round one with 55% of the vote.

“The most important thing for the city
was the multiracial, multiethnic nature of this
victory. It was truly a citywide victory. To do
that in one round is a remarkable feat.”

- David Axelrod