Your NPR news source
Mayor Brandon Johnson greets veteran

In this file photo from March 7, 2024, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson greets a veteran at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center before a roundtable discussion on homeless veterans and the Bring Chicago Home referendum. While thousands of ballots remain outstanding, as of Friday morning, the ballot question appears headed for defeat. A WBEZ analysis of unofficial election results shows areas that heavily supported Johnson in last year’s mayoral runoff didn’t support his referendum at the same levels.

Ashlee Rezin

How did Chicago vote for Bring Chicago Home? Here are six takeaways from the data.

The Bring Chicago Home referendum has officially failed, according to the Associated Press.

The ballot measure lost with 52.3% of votes in opposition and 47.7% of votes in support, according to unofficial results from the Chicago Board of Elections on Monday.

The Associated Press made the call Friday evening after another batch of mail-in ballots were processed and tallied. Another roughly 50,000 mail-in ballots are still outstanding, according to an update from the Chicago Board of Elections on Sunday evening.

At the precinct level, margins of victory and defeat for the measure varied widely. More than 90% of voters rejected the measure in three 19th Ward precincts on the far Southwest Side. In contrast, the measure saw the support of nearly 80% of voters in three precincts in the 49th Ward on the far North Side.

A WBEZ analysis breaks down the unofficial results, as of Monday morning, by precinct to show how different parts of the city voted. WBEZ used population figures from the 2020 census to determine household occupancy status and the racial and ethnic makeup of the city’s nearly 1,300 election precincts.

Homeowners voted against while renters were split

Most homeowner-heavy precincts voted against Bring Chicago Home, while renter-heavy precincts were split with a slight preference for the measure. About 62% of voters in precincts where the majority of households are homeowner occupied voted against the measure, according to a WBEZ analysis. The split was closer in majority-renter precincts, with 45% voting against and 55% voting in favor.

Among the city’s 773 majority-renter precincts, the measure saw the highest margins of victory in precincts on the far North Side and in the Hyde Park and Logan Square communities. Meanwhile, the highest share of “No” votes were in precincts downtown, in Lincoln Park and in Chinatown. Bring Chicago Home narrowly won in just 123 out of 516 majority-homeowner precincts, largely on the far South Side.

Real estate groups and opponents of the measure argued the impacts of a property sale tax hike for commercial real estate and landlords would ultimately be passed on to homeowners in the form of higher property taxes.

Lukewarm support for Bring Chicago Home in Johnson’s strongholds

The Bring Chicago Home referendum was one of Johnson’s main campaign promises, but many voters who buoyed Johnson to the mayor’s office last year didn’t back the measure this year.

Overall, about 59% of voters in precincts Johnson won in last year’s mayoral runoff voted for the measure, while 67% of voters in precincts Johnson lost voted against the measure. But support for the referendum was lukewarm in the places Johnson handedly won in the runoff. In precincts where Johnson claimed more than 80% of the vote in the runoff, Bring Chicago Home captured, collectively, just 56%. In contrast, precincts where Johnson received little support overwhelmingly voted against the ballot measure.

Voter support for Bring Chicago Home was lower than support for Johnson in the runoff in nearly every precinct he won last year. However, the difference was especially stark on the South and West sides, where in some precincts, the difference between the percentage of “yes” votes for the measure and the percentage of votes for Johnson was greater than 30 percentage points. Many of these majority-Black precincts underpinned Johnson’s narrow win against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas last April.

Bring Chicago Home vote split somewhat along racial and ethnic lines

In majority-white precincts, which accounted for nearly half of all referendum votes, about 58% of voters opposed the measure. In majority-Black precincts, which registered one-fourth of all referendum votes, about 54% voted for Bring Chicago Home and 46% voted against it.

Among majority-white precincts, votes for and against Bring Chicago Home were split by neighborhood. Bring Chicago Home won in majority-white precincts came largely from precincts on the Far North Side while the referendum lost in nearly every majority-white precinct on the Far Northwest Side, Near North Side and Far Southwest Side.

Similar splits were seen among majority-Black and majority-Latino precincts. The referendum won in almost all majority-Black precincts east of the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side. However, the results were mixed in majority-Black precincts west of the expressway on the South Side and in the Austin community on the West Side, where homeownership rates are higher.

In majority-Latino precincts on the Southwest Side, most precincts supporting the measure were north of the Stevenson Expressway, while most precincts south of the expressway rejected it. On the Northwest Side, majority-Latino precincts east of the Milwaukee District North Metra tracks went in support of Bring Chicago Home, while nearly all majority-Latino precincts to the west voted in opposition.

Stronger turnout in places with highest opposition

Preliminary figures suggest this year’s primary had the second-lowest citywide turnout for a presidential primary in at least 80 years. Citywide turnout stands at 25.3%, as of Monday morning and with all precincts reporting, not including the roughly 50,000 outstanding mail-in ballots. Participation in the referendum was similarly low, with just 23% of registered voters answering the referendum question.

However, in such a close race, slightly higher voter turnout in precincts with stronger opposition amplified the number of “no” votes cast against the referendum, tipping the scale in favor of its defeat. More than 50,800 “no” votes were cast in precincts where more than 70% of voters opposed Bring Chicago Home, roughly 35,000 more than the number of “yes” votes, the WBEZ analysis shows. In contrast, just 16,800 “yes” votes were cast in precincts with strong support, where the referendum passed with more than 70% of the vote, about 11,000 more than the number of “no” votes.

The geographic breakdown of voter turnout mostly mirrored patterns witnessed in many previous elections. Turnout was highest in majority-white precincts on the far Northwest and Southwest sides, where most precincts voted against the measure. Turnout was lowest in majority-Latino precincts, where 53% of voters rejected the measure, and in some majority-Black precincts on the South and West sides, where 54% of voters approved of the measure.

Mansion tax? Not quite

Bring Chicago Home has been dubbed the “mansion tax” by some, but there are a wide range of properties that have sold for at least $1 million the last few years. In addition to mansions and other luxury homes and condos, thousands of million-dollar apartment buildings, commercial strips and industrial sites have also been sold in recent years.

WBEZ analyzed more than 10,000 properties in Chicago that sold for at least $1 million between 2019 and 2023. About 39% of the properties were classified as single-family residences, 32% were classified as multifamily and another 26% were classified as either commercial, industrial or mixed-use properties.

Between 2019 and 2023, properties were sold for at least $1 million in more than 900 of the city’s roughly 1,300 precincts. WBEZ analyzed the referendum results and the location of million-dollar properties sold during those years and found voters, collectively, favored Bring Chicago Home in precincts where the highest number of million-dollar properties sold were multifamily buildings.

About 56% of voters in those precincts approved of the measure. However, just 47% of voters supported the referendum in precincts where commercial, industrial and mixed-use buildings were the leading million-dollar properties sold. It was 45% in precincts where single-family residences were the top million-dollar properties.

Collectively, more than 60% of voters opposed the measure in precincts where no million-dollar properties were sold from 2019 to 2023. Those precincts were scattered throughout the city with many of them located on the Northwest, Southwest and Southeast sides where homeownership rates are high. Overall, a majority of voters approved of the measure in precincts where the number of million-dollar properties sold during that span ranged between four and 29. However, in precincts with 30 or more million-dollar properties sold during those years, most voters opposed Bring Chicago Home, and the opposition increased as the number of million-dollar properties sold increased.

Bring Chicago Home less popular in more affluent areas

WBEZ aligned precinct and census maps to get a sense of the education, economic and employment status of Chicagoans who voted for or against the referendum. Census block groups are the smallest geography for which the U.S. Census Bureau collects education, household income and employment information as part of its annual American Community Survey.

WBEZ attributed Bring Chicago Home support or opposition to census block groups, if all the precincts that compose some part of the block groups voted for or against the measure. WBEZ then calculated the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees, the percentage of six-figure households and the unemployment rate for the collections of block groups where all its precincts supported or opposed the measure. Those indicators were also tracked for block groups that were split between precincts in support or in opposition to the referendum.

Areas that opposed the referendum had the highest percentages of both adults with at least bachelor’s degrees and six-figure households. They had the lowest unemployment rates.

Amy Qin is a data reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @amyqin12. Alden Loury is the data projects editor for WBEZ. Follow him at @AldenLoury.

The Latest
A greater share of Chicago area Republicans cast their ballots by mail in March compared to the 2022 primary, but they were still vastly outpaced by Democrats in using a voting system that has become increasingly popular.
As the 2024 presidential election approaches, officials, advocates and experts have expressed concern over misinformation and disinformation about candidates and elections in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois.
In interviews with WBEZ, several decried the length of sentence the 80-year-old could face, while a handful of others said he deserves significant time in prison.

From 1968 to today, volunteers in Chicago aim to connect visitors to their city, and to see some of the convention action themselves
Chicago’s longest-serving alderman Ed Burke will face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced later this month. WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel shares what prosecutors and Burke’s defense team are requesting from the judge overseeing the case.