The Undecided

If a new poll is any indication, a significant portion of Philadelphia’s electorate doesn’t know who it’s voting for in the May 16 primary, thus making some upcoming Mayoral forums more than a little important.

If the results of a new poll are any indication, the remaining candidates in the Mayor of Philadelphia sweepstakes need to circle two dates on the calendar: April 13, and April 20.

Now why are those two dates important? They’re important because they’re the dates of two upcoming Mayoral forums centered on the Black community and its issues. On the 13th, the Black Media Matters forum will bring together Black press organizations including the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, Philadelphia Tribune and WURD Radio. On April 20, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists will be holding its own forum on similar topics.

And if a recently released poll conducted by the Black Leadership PAC — a coalition of business, labor, community, and civil leaders dedicated to progress for the Black community, — is any indication, there’s a whole lot of voters that are waiting to be impressed.

According to the poll, which was conducted from March 4 to March 16 took a sample of 400 members of Philadelphia’s Black community — with an oversampling of 100 middle class residents earning $50,000 to $100,000 a year — 42% of those sampled were still undecided with six weeks left before the May 16 primary.

The poll, which was conducted by HIT Strategies, also found that:

• 89% of Black Philadelphia voters — 9 voters out of every 10 — say they believe their vote is very or somewhat powerful when it comes to making changes on issues that matter to them as opposed to 53% of Black voters holding that belief nationwide.

• The majority (59%) of Black voters — 59% — say they are dissatisfied with the direction that Philadelphia is headed in.

• The top issues among Philadelphia’s Black voters are gun violence (54%), crime and public safety (43%), and the cost of living, including rent (27%)

But what stands out is the number of voters in the Black community that still don’t know who they’re going to vote for, said Terrance Woodbury of HIT Strategies.

“In some ways this poll is unprecedented,” said Terrance Woodbury of HIT Strategies. “To be this close to the primary and have 42 percent of Black Philadelphia voters undecided suggests a significant gap between what candidates are offering and what these voters feel is needed. Philadelphia seems to be at a crossroads. The decisions of this voting community and the results of this election will determine the direction of this city at a pivotal time.”

When you consider the fact that according to the United States Census, Blacks make up roughly 44% of Philadelphia’s population, that’s a lot of people who haven’t made a decision yet.

In all honesty, I can kind of understand why this is. To get any information from these candidates, you have two choices: You can either go on their websites and read papers that are in many cases longer than the papers I wrote in graduate school or you can go to any of the eleventybillion forums that have been taking place and get the kinds of canned answers that a 90 second response time limit can bring.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I can get all the information I need to make a big decision like whom the next mayor should be this way.

So, since it appears no one is dropping out, let’s hope that the candidates have worked on an elevator pitch.

They’re gonna need it.

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