As the Philadelphia mayoral primary enters its final month, Philadelphians will look at two remaining factors to help determine their next mayor: TV ads and endorsements.
Six Democratic candidates are vying to win the Democratic primary on May 19, and the race remains wide open.
While State Sen. Anthony Williams, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and former City Councilman Jim Kenney have been viewed as the favorites, due to a lack of independent polling, no true frontrunner has been identified.
Abraham’s campaign released an internal poll conducted on March 17 that showed her with 30 percent of the vote, Kenney and Williams with 14 percent and the rest of the field with under 6 percent. In a city that tends to vote along racial lines, the poll also put Abraham in the lead for the black vote. The poll also stated that 29 percent of Philadelphians remain undecided.
Regardless, the validity and predictive value of Abraham’s internal poll is limited. “We don’t have any really reliable polls,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin and Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs, who has conducted polls in past mayoral elections. “Any time a party or candidate or interest group that is supporting a candidate puts out a poll, it’s going to be self-serving. I’m not saying they don’t know how to do them, but it is definitely going to be self-serving.”
A more telling measure of the state of the race is endorsements, which is an area where Kenney and Williams have excelled.
According to Newsworks’ Mayoral-Race Endorsement Tracker, Kenney has 22 endorsements from major unions — including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO — interest groups and local leaders. Williams is in second with 10, including city councilmen and labor unions, whereas former Judge Nelson Diaz has five, Abraham has one and former PGW executive Doug Oliver and former State Sen. T. Milton Street have none.
“It’s not arguable that the lion’s share of the big endorsements have gone to Kenney,” Madonna said. “That’s where Kenney might have an advantage. Because of the unions, he’ll have bodies on the ground.”
Even though the endorsements are a powerful indicator of political support, there are some major political players who have yet to endorse any candidate. For instance, the Democratic City Committee of Philadelphia has decided not to endorse any Democratic candidate, which shows a lack of consensus among local Democratic officials.
But there is still time left in the race, and television advertising will play a major role in establishing name recognition and swaying undecided Democratic voters.
and have emerged as the first two candidates to advertise on television. Williams’ campaign has spent almost $200,000 on buying airtime. American Cities, an independent political action committee, has also spent over $1 million on advertisements supporting Williams. While Kenney’s campaign has yet to spend any money on television ads, two independent committees have spent around $500,000 on buying airtime for ads supporting Kenney.
“You’ve got to get on TV, and you got to get a presence. We know who these people are ... but the average voters don’t know,” Madonna said. “I basically think it’s a two-person race with an outside chance for Abraham. That’s not to say that Oliver and Nelson aren’t qualified, but it’s a question of whether they can raise the money and the support. And that’s the major difficulty: money and support.”Comments powered by Disqus
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