Latest Poll Has Grim News for Fattah, Brady

Posted May 10, 2007 at 10:04am

Less than a week before Philadelphia Democrats pick the man who will almost certainly be the City of Brotherly Love’s next mayor, polls are looking grim for the two Members of Congress who are in the five-way Democratic race, Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.

An independent poll released Wednesday on the Democratic primary showed Fattah, the former frontrunner, running third with 13 percent of the vote, and Brady in fourth place with 11 percent. The leader was former City Councilman Michael Nutter with 31 percent, followed by businessman Tom Knox with 21 percent. State Rep. Dwight Evans had 3 percent.

The Keystone Poll, taken by Franklin & Marshall College, surveyed 385 registered Democrats May 2-7. It had a 5-point error margin.

Significantly, 21 percent of those surveyed were still undecided, and in a memo the pollsters noted, “there are three features of the race that make it possible for voters’ preferences to differ [Tuesday] from those expressed in the survey.”

One was the voter indecision, a second was the fact that 41 percent of those surveyed conceded that they had not yet locked in their choice, and a third was the uncertainty of voter turnout. A high turnout level, the pollsters concluded, would aid Knox, who was a political unknown until earlier this year when he began pouring millions of dollars of his own money into TV ads.

Unless he has a late rally, the primary results could be a particular disappointment to Fattah, who led the field with 26 percent of the vote in the January Keystone Poll and was second with 17 percent in April. Nutter — who was third with 12 percent in the January poll — has surged ahead largely at the expense of the other two black candidates, Fattah and Evans.

At a candidate debate Monday, Fattah said Nutter “has to remind himself that he’s an African-American.” Nutter was endorsed recently by both major daily newspapers in the city and is a favorite candidate of white liberals.

Meanwhile, as chairman of Philadelphia’s Democratic Committee, Brady’s inability to crank out a huge showing for himself on primary day also will be somewhat surprising, if the polls are to be believed. But if he loses, he may get a decent consolation prize, because he is the frontrunner to be named the new chairman of the House Administration Committee.

Several Members of Congress have contributed to Fattah’s and Brady’s campaigns. According to city campaign finance reports, Fattah took in $15,000 from colleagues, most of them members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Brady got a $2,000 contribution from Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and $1,000 from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will be the overwhelming favorite in the November general election.
— Josh Kurtz