Poll: Fattah is still tops, but Nutter has fans, too

Posted: January 05, 2007

A new poll shows that U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, again, is the top potential vote-getter in the 2007 mayor's race.

But the survey, released yesterday, also for the first time suggests something else: the possibility of a break in Philadelphia's long tradition of voting along racial lines.

Although Fattah is clearly the preferred candidate of the city's Democratic black and white voters combined, as well as just black voters, another African American candidate has emerged as the favorite of white voters.

That's former City Councilman Michael A. Nutter, who was backed by 21 percent of the white voters surveyed. The second choice, with backing from 15 percent of white voters? Fattah. Of the white candidates, the highest vote-getter was U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, drawing 14 percent of whites surveyed.

"That says to me that maybe race isn't nearly a factor as people would think," said James Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling & Research.

The Harrisburg firm conducted the poll on behalf of Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, a pro-business organization whose board members include Robert A. Gleason Jr., chairman of the Republican Party State Committee; Renee Amoore, the GOP committee's deputy chairman; and Robert Asher, its national committeeman.

Unlike two previous publicly released polls that also put Fattah on top, this one was based on interviews with only registered Democrats in the city, and specifically with those who voted in either the 2003 or 2005 primary elections.

About half of the 500 Democrats surveyed were white, and half were black. All were interviewed on the telephone between Dec. 26 and Dec. 28.

As far as the specifics go, Fattah was embraced by 29 percent of those surveyed; Nutter and State Rep. Dwight Evans each drew 12 percent; Brady came in at 10 percent; businessman Tom Knox got 9 percent; and labor leader John J. Dougherty was preferred by 5 percent of voters.

Results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

"From a ballot standpoint, the poll clearly shows that Chaka Fattah has decent name identification in all regions of the city," Lee said.

He noted that Fattah was not only the most popular within his own congressional district, which covers almost half of Philadelphia, but also within the district of his congressional colleague, Brady, who represents about one-third of the city.

The May 15 primary may be almost five months away, but "like it or not," Lee said of Fattah, "geography plays a role and he has a pretty big head start."

Fattah announced his candidacy in November; Brady's supporters said the congressman would officially enter the race in three weeks.

Among the poll's other findings was evidence that Knox's $700,000 worth of TV campaign ads last month paid off. In prior surveys, about 1 percent of voters said they would support him, compared with 9 percent now.

Contact staff writer Marcia Gelbart at 215-854-2338 or mgelbart@phillynews.com.

On the Web

For more information about the latest poll in the 2007 mayor's race, go to: http://www.pegweb.org/mc/page.do.

To see more Inquirer coverage of the mayor's race, go to:

http://go.philly.com/mayor

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