Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Primary, May 20, 2015

In mid May, we conducted a poll on the Philadelphia Mayoral Democratic Primary, which was commissioned by WCAU - NBC10, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.  Just a few short weeks before our poll was released, other polls showed former Councilman Jim Kenney holding a small edge over for State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams.  When we conducted our poll, we found that Kenney’s lead was far greater – 27 points, to be exact. (Kenney 42% - Williams 15%). 

Needless to say, our poll raised quite a few eyebrows!

We knew turnout would be low.  Heck, other pollsters (who I won’t name J ) did not even want to conduct a survey on this primary – they deemed it impossible, given recent low turnout in Philly primaries!  But we decided to go for it, and now we had an interesting, surprising poll on our hands.

Doubters (you know who you are) even questioned whether our poll overstated Kenney’s lead.

It turns out our poll #NailedIt!  Kenney beat Williams by 30 points.  (Kenney 56% - Williams 26%).  Looking deep within our internal crosstabs, we found that among voters who were paying a lot of attention to the primary and who also said they were very likely to vote, there also was a 30 point margin (Kenney 47% - Williams 17%).

Obviously surveys contain things like undecided voters and last-minute switchers.   When you account for these, it is clear that each of the two major candidates got some of these voters, but Kenney’s lead was too wide for Williams to have closed the gap.  

We saw Kenney holding a large lead among white voters but also a small lead among African Americans.  It appeared to us that Lynn Abraham would not cut into the white vote, as observers and analysts had predicted. 

Williams’ criticism of Police Commissioner Ramsey during one of the debates was also determinative.  Our poll showed the Commissioner to be one of the most popular leaders among this constituency!

Finally, we found that the low turnout helped Kenney on Primary day – as his voters were the most energized and motivated, while undecided voters and supporters of the other candidates coalesced slightly around both Kenney and Williams in the last few days, but other than that, stayed home.

All in all, it was very satisfying for our firm to have produced a poll for the major news outlets in Philadelphia that captured the dynamic and context of the race.  Polls are, of course, a snapshot in time, and not a crystal ball.  But if anyone saw our poll, they were not surprised by the outcome!

To find out more about our poll and how it lined up with the outcome of yesterday's primary, please go to http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Jim-Kenney-Wins-Democratic-Bid-for-Mayor-of-Philadelphia-304342991.html

Written By Adam Geller