Former City Councilman James F. Kenney and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams appear to hold a slight lead over former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham in the Democratic race for Philadelphia mayor, a new poll shows.
Kenney had the support of 26 percent of likely Democratic voters, while Williams had 25 percent and Abraham 22 percent, according to the poll released Thursday by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The poll also found that 18 percent of 587 voters questioned from April 9 to 15 were undecided about which candidate to support in the May 19 primary election. The margin of error is 4.1 percent.
AFSCME's pollster, Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies in Washington, found the three other Democrats in the race trailing in the single digits. Former State Sen. T. Milton Street Sr. had 4 percent, former Common Pleas Court Judge Nelson A. Diaz had 3 percent, and former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver had 2 percent.
The pollsters, in a memo, said Abraham enjoys strong name recognition, while Kenney and Williams "clearly have more room to grow, as we would expect them to do as these two candidates and their allies continue to dominate the airwaves in the final month."
Abraham's campaign dismissed the poll, since three AFSCME district councils in Philadelphia have endorsed Kenney. Her campaign also said she "just placed a $700,000 TV buy to start next week."
A source familiar with media buys in the race said Abraham had paid for next week's airtime, but in the two weeks that follow, she has reserved time but has not paid for it.
Kenney is expected to start airing his own TV commercials next week.
The pollsters found that the candidates' race played an "expected . . . powerful role" in voters' choices.
Williams holds a lead at 39 percent among black voters, to Kenney's 13 percent and Abraham's 17 percent. Kenney leads at 43 percent with white voters, to Abraham's 30 percent and Williams' 9 percent.
Kenney did better in the poll among "voters who consistently vote in city elections," even in low turnout contests, leading Williams by 37 percent to 23 percent, the pollsters found.
"Williams, on the other hand, relies on less consistent voters to bolster his standing," the memo said, putting a greater burden on his campaign to get those supporters to the polls on election day.