Philly Mayor: New Poll, and the Philadelphia Progressive Divide
by Chris Bowers, Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 01:48:23 PM EDT
3/28-4/3. 364 RVs. MoE 5.1 (1/31 numbers in parenthesis)
Knox: 24 (22)
Fattah: 17 (26)
Brady: 16 (8)
Nutter: 12 (12)
Evans: 10 (10)
Unsure: 21 (22)
BooMan has more on the poll. Overall, there is not much movement over the past two months. What movement there was simply put Brady's number more in line with his results in other polls. Knox's momentum seems to have decidedly slowed, and with a high number of undecideds and a lot of soft support all around, there are openings for other candidates. Not huge openings, mind you, but definitely still openings.
I think what is really dragging down Fattah is anemic fundraising and a resulting lack of presence on the airwaves. I actually haven't even seen any ads for Fattah yet, even though I have seen ads for all other candidates. He might go back up if he can increase his visibility.
Nutter just went on the air last week, and this poll has a very low percentage of young voters (only 16% under the age of 35!), so I am inclined to believe that his numbers have decent buoyancy. I should note that I donated $50 to his campaign recently, and I expect that my ward, the 27th, will endorse him. But that doesn't mean I don't like the other candidates, or would be unwilling to work with them after the campaign, or on other issues.
There is a real divide in the reform / progressive community in Philadelphia between Fattah and Nutter (and, to a lesser extent, Evans and Knox). Mike Connery had an interesting diary at MyDD earlier in the week that I think summarizes the basic lines of this divide:
As I've been considering the place of - or more frequently total lack of - organizations whose mission it is to reach out to, engage, and elevate young people of color in our politics, I've started to think a lot lately about the divide between two major progressive constituencies: those who understand political activity through the vocabulary and history of social justice movements, vs. those who consider themselves to be part of a new progressive movement.In my experience, I think this is basically true, and such a divide absolutely does exist. In Philly, in the political circles in which I operate, the social justice types tend to be for Fattah, while the progressive movement types, including myself, tend to be for Nutter. A piece I wrote back on Sunday, Institutionalism and the Progressive Movement, goes a long way toward explaining, at least in the abstract, why I eventually chose Nutter (in fact, as you might notice at the end of the piece, I wrote that article with an explanation of my Nutter endorsement in mind). In a broad sense, I just really feel like Nutter is the best choice to engage in the types of intra-institutional fights the progressive movement is already deeply engaged in here in Philadelphia. By way of contrast, over at Young Philly Politics, Dan explains why it seems he has come down on Fattah's side, very much in terms connected to the idea of social justice. I disagree with Dan's definition of philosophy. What I really think he is describing is a difference in management style and bureaucracy organization, as both Nutter and Fattah think government should help the poor, just different parts of government. Nonetheless, I think Dan's post and my post are a decent explanation of the social justice vs. progressive movement divide Mike outlines.
This new progressive movement seeks to work within and transform the system. It is party-based and electoral. During interviews for my book, a couple people pointed out to me that a lot of political terminology and basic concepts that we in this movement take for granted - including the term progressive - are either alienating or just nonstarters among a lot of young people of color. Instead, young people of color understand politics through a language based in community organizing, human rights, civil rights, and social justice. That is a language the progressive movement rarely embraces. Worse, its a language that the Democratic Party - our chosen vehicle of change - almost never embraces.
The two groups can, and often do, end up working together, as this is something of a natural alliance. Many people probably move somewhat freely in and out of both groups, and have a real affinity for people on both "sides." However, there are also moments where the two groups break apart, as I think we saw in the blogosphere over the Iraq Accountability Act, as we can see in the Philadelphia mayoral race, and as we saw in 2003 between Kucinich supporters and certain types of Dean supporters. In the end, I'm not really sure if this is even a big problem, or if there is any need to somehow merge the two groups. I do at least think it is interesting to discuss, and that it adds another wrinkle into any generalized discussions of the broader progressive political ecosystem.