This year, Chicago saw a political earthquake unlike anything it had previously experienced. In a town known for its impenetrable “political machine”, a newcomer took the reins of the city as its 56th mayor. Lori Lightfoot will not only be the first woman of color and the first openly gay person to lead Chicago, but she did so by taking on the machine and winning.

As a reform candidate without the political pedigree or deep pockets of some of the other 13 candidates in the race, few prognosticators gave Lightfoot much of a chance during much of the race.

GBAO was part of the Lightfoot team from day one, helping guide strategic and targeting decisions on the campaign. Our research showed that as a progressive and independent former federal prosecutor who had taken on the difficult challenge of reforming Chicago’s police department, Lightfoot was primed to rise through a crowded field full of better known alternatives.

While public polling as close as four weeks before the election showed Lightfoot as far down as ninth place, Lightfoot and her team stayed aggressive and set out to execute their campaign plan, engineering a late surge fueled by strong endorsements and her relentless on-message campaign against the broken Chicago “machine”.

On Election Day, Lightfoot finished in first place despite being dramatically outspent by several other candidates. With a message of change and independence that unified diverse communities across Chicago, she then went on to win the second round election by 47 points, carrying all 50 of the city’s wards and winning 99 percent of its precincts.