(Full list of today's candidates)
With Democratic incumbent John Street ahead by more than 10 points in two of the most recent polls, Republican challenger Sam Katz's camp seemed to be more confident about a mayoral victory on the eve of the election.
"We have put together a field operation that a challenger in Philadelphia has never been able to put together before," Katz spokesman Nate Raab said yesterday. "We will have approximately 7,000 people on the street on Election Day. We're going to win."
Street spokesman Mark Nevins seemed slightly less confident, despite his candidate's lead in the polls.
"I think that we feel optimistic," Nevins said. "I think that those polls are encouraging. I mean, it's always nicer to be ahead in the polls than behind. I think we're also not taking those polls too seriously, because polls don't vote. People vote."
On Wednesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, according to a poll conducted by KYW-TV, KYW-AM and Temple University, Street had a 17-point lead over Katz. A Fox News poll also gave Street a 13-point lead.
Some of the major issues the campaign has revolved around include the physical revitalization of Philadelphia, the state of the city's public schools and economic plans for the city in light of the national fiscal situation.
Still, according to Political Science Professor Rogers Smith, today's election will not be decided on the basis of many of these issues.
"It's quite clear that this election is turning on two things," Smith said.
He explained that the first of these "is the perception of many Katz supporters that John Street has not" done enough to stop "the economic decline in Philadelphia," and the notion that many of his policy decisions enacted during his tenure have not been effective. The second is "the perception of Street supporters" that not only has Street made inroads as mayor over the past four years, but that "he's being targeted by government investigations" simply because "he's a black mayor."
Both Smith and Frederick Voigt, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia nonpartisan political watchdog group, agreed that the election really hinges on one question that has not yet been answered -- which candidate will manage to get more of his constituents to the polls today.
"It's all turnout," Voigt said. "Whoever can get their voters to the polls. Organization is what it's all about -- get your voters out."
Smith seconded this, adding that the recent Federal Bureau of Investigation probe in which Street is a subject has created a greater racial divide than usual among Philadelphia voters.
"The electorate has become more racially polarized than before," Smith said.
So what does that mean for the election's results?
"If there's a high turnout -- Street," Smith said. Still, he added that blacks traditionally have turned out in lower numbers to vote in the United States. Furthermore, black candidates tend to do better in polls than they do in voting booths -- white people who say they are willing to vote for black candidates in theory are often less likely to do so in actuality.
Even with Street ahead in the polls, it looks as though the race is up in the air.
Still, Raab is confident that with the broad base of support Katz has received -- even from traditionally Democratic groups like labor unions and the Pentecostal Church -- his candidate will come out ahead.
"We're very excited," Raab said. "We have a coalition of supporters, an unprecedented coalition of supporters all over the city."
Nevins is also fairly certain that Street's programming has convinced the public that the mayor should continue at his job. But he stressed that the voters need to understand that it is their vote that can get his candidate elected.
"We need people to feel like their vote makes a difference," Nevins said. "Get out to vote on Election Day."
In addition to selecting the city's new mayor, Philadelphia voters will also weigh in on a number of other decisions at the polls today -- including the election of new City Council district and at-large members, city commissioners and several state and city-level judges.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.