Exclusive poll:
Kenney in front
James F. Kenney holds a commanding lead in Philadelphia's Democratic mayoral primary, according to an independent poll conducted within the past week.
With less than a week until Tuesday's primary, a survey of 600 likely voters showed Kenney with 42 percent support, far ahead of both former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham and state Sen. Anthony H. Williams, each of whom were favored by 15 percent of those polled.
Sample size
600 Likely Primary Voters
Margin of error
+/-4.00
Field dates
May 9-11, 2015
1. If the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Philadelphia were held today and you had to make a choice, for whom would you vote?
Jim Kenney
42%
Lynne Abraham
15%
Anthony Hardy Williams
15%
Nelson Diaz
5%
Doug Oliver
3%
Milton Street
3%
Undecided
14%
Refused
3%
Kenney is leading in all parts of the city, overwhelmingly among whites and with healthy support among African Americans, according to the survey, which was commissioned by The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philly.com and NBC10.
Undecided voters made up 14 percent of those surveyed, while the remainder of the field -- former judge Nelson Diaz, former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver and former state Sen. T. Milton Street Sr. -- all drew single-digit support.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, was conducted Saturday through Monday via telephone interviews by National Research Inc., based in Holmdel, N.J. The firm typically does polling for Republican candidates. It was chosen for this survey because of its track record and because it has no ties to any of the Democratic candidates.
Beyond the mayor's race, the poll found that Philadelphians are split on whether the city is heading in the right direction, hold a favorable opinion of Mayor Nutter -- and are overwhelmingly positive about Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, whom Williams has pledged to dismiss.
Adam Geller, founder of National Research, said Williams' position on Ramsey had backfired.
"We looked at Ramsey's popularity and it is translating to Kenney," the pollster said. "The lesson here is you don't pick on a popular guy."
More on the poll results
The poll's rankings of mayoral candidates showed Kenney with greater support than in two surveys conducted last month on behalf of the candidate himself. Those polls had the former city councilman in the low 30-percent range with Williams second in the mid-20s.
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much attention have you been paying to the upcoming Democratic Primary election for Mayor?
One means you have not been paying attention at all, five means that you have been paying some attention, and ten means you have been paying a great deal of attention to the upcoming Democratic Primary for Mayor.
Taken together, the polls suggest a continued momentum for Kenney. Geller cautioned, however, that polls are simply "snapshots" in time. He said he fully expected Williams to prove more competitive on Election Day.
The Inquirer poll has Kenney, who is white, in a statistical dead heat with Williams, a prominent African American officeholder, among black voters. Kenney was attracting 33 percent of the African American vote compared with Williams' 25 percent. The margin of error for this more narrow sliver of the poll, however, is 10 percent. About 20 percent of the African Americans surveyed were undecided or declined to say whom they supported.
Kenney is leading among white voters with 58 percent to Abraham's 18 percent, and Williams' six percent, the poll found.
"I think Kenney has done a masterful job consolidating the white vote," Geller said, "and is very, very competitive among black voters."
Kenney held an edge over the other candidates, too, when those polled were asked who would do a better job tackling the city's top problems, including improving education.
On education, Geller said, 44 percent sided with Kenney - to 14 percent for Abraham and 13 percent for Williams.
That is telling in that Williams came into the campaign with a reputation as an advocate for school choice.
3. Of the following Philadelphia issues, which single one is the most important to you personally - that is, the Philadelphia issue that will determine your vote for Mayor and city officials on election day.
Improving education and schools in Philadelphia
37%
Bringing jobs to Philadelphia
14%
Reducing crime
14%
Reducing taxes in Philadelphia
8%
Reducing poverty in the city
8%
Focusing on neighborhood development
4%
All
12%
None/Other
3%
Kenney had a much greater favorability rating than any of his five rivals in the race. Among those surveyed, 68 percent held a favorable opinion of him, while only 9 percent saw him in an unfavorable light.
In comparison, Abraham was rated unfavorable by 27 percent of those polled and Williams by 30 percent of those polled. Only Street had a greater negative rating with 64 percent of those polled viewing him unfavorably.
Geller said Kenney was proving a draw even among voters who had favorable opinions of his opponents.
One of the voters polled, Robert Harvey, is a case in point.
The 81-year-old Mount Airy resident is a fan of Abraham's, but was persuaded to support Kenney -- who has considerable organized-labor backing -- after getting a few calls from members of Harvey's former union, the Communication Workers of America.
"I take their advice," Harvey said. "They're checking out the candidates and issues and things like that. So he's our guy. And nothing against Lynne Abraham. She's a sweetheart."
Geller said a third of those polled who held favorable opinions of Williams said they nonetheless planned to vote to Kenney next week.
"When your own favorables aren't voting for you, who will?" Geller asked.
Early reaction to the poll came in from three campaigns.
“We are pleased that voters are seeing our opponents' attacks for what they are, but we're not taking anything for granted,” Lauren Hitt, Kenney’s spokeswoman, said. “ We're going to continue to work as hard as ever along with the unprecedented, diverse coalition behind Jim's campaign to turn out the vote on Election Day.”
Abraham said in a statement released by her campaign, "We're going to let the voters decide.”
"Polls come and go, but what's been persistent is the education crisis in Philadelphia,” Williams said in a statement issued by his spokesman Albert L. Butler. “That's what I've focused my career on; that's what I will focus on as mayor."
Street said this of his single-digit showing in the poll: “Three percent is better than no percent.”
The poll also asked about other prominent figures in the city -- Nutter, Ramsey, former Gov. Ed Rendell, and Philadelphia school superintendent William Hite.
The poll found Nutter with a 59-to-36 favorable/unfavorable rating. Hite was much less popular, with a 34-30 split. Wildly popular were both Rendell (75-13) and Ramsey -- whose 78-to-12 split put him well ahead of his boss, Nutter.
4. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the following people?
Hover over the bars to see the breakdown.
Tap the bars to see the breakdown.
Very favorable
Somewhat favorable
Very unfavorable
Somewhat unfavorable
Heard of but no opinion
Never heard of
James Kenney
Jim
Kenney
35%
33%
68%
4%
5%
9%
14%
9%
23%
0
50
100%
Lynne Abraham
Lynne
Abraham
27%
32%
59%
15%
12%
27%
8%
7%
15%
0
50
100%
Anthony Willaims
Anthony
Williams
20%
27%
47%
16%
14%
30%
16%
7%
23%
0
50
100%
Nelson Diaz
Nelson
Diaz
11%
26%
37%
6%
9%
15%
26%
22%
48%
0
50
100%
Doug Oliver
Doug
Oliver
8%
20%
28%
4%
7%
10%
28%
33%
61%
0
50
100%
Milton Street
Milton
Street
7%
15%
22%
46%
18%
64%
9%
5%
14%
0
50
100%
Ed Rendell
Ed
Rendell
42%
33%
75%
5%
8%
13%
8%
4%
12%
0
50
100%
Michael Nutter
Michael
Nutter
24%
36%
59%
23%
13%
36%
5%
5%
0
50
100%
Charles
Charles
Ramsey
45%
33%
78%
5%
6%
11%
8%
2%
10%
0
50
100%
William Hite
William
Hite
11%
23%
34%
15%
15%
30%
23%
12%
35%
0
50
100%
Those polled were tepid when it came to the future of the city, though. Forty percent thought Philadelphia was headed in the right direction compared with 43 percent who said it was on the wrong track.
5. Do you feel things in Philadelphia are going in the right direction, or do you feel things have gotten off on the wrong track?
Right direction
40%
Wrong track
43%
Don't know
17%
Nutter largely escaped blame, though, in that regard: Sixty percent of those polled approved of two-term mayor's job performance.
6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Michael Nutter is doing as Mayor of Philadelphia?
Approve
60%
Disapprove
35%
Undecided/
Don't know
4%
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