It is not the contest Sam Katz wanted to win, but for the second consecutive election, he received more of the votes cast in South Philadelphia than Mayor John Street.
However, the Republican’s support waned in every local ward except one compared to four years ago.
The Street campaign preached party loyalty in the weeks prior to the election — in a city where Democrats outnumber Republican four to one — and apparently it worked.
The mayor sliced into Katz’s lead in most of the white wards while extending his control in the black neighborhoods, and ultimately put more than 78,000 votes between himself and his challenger citywide.
The election ended with Street getting 58.4 percent of the votes to Katz’s 41.3.
Citywide voter turnout was 47 percent, up from 44 percent in 1999. In South Philly, turnout was also 47 percent this year, up slightly from 46 percent in 1999.
About the strong turnout, Fred Voigt, executive director of the political watchdog group Committee of Seventy, said, "They spent 21 million bucks. That’s what happens."
There probably would have been more votes, he said, had there not been so many ballot questions.
"The biggest problem on Election Day was the ballot questions, because people took so long to vote on those," Voigt said. "Forget about the accusations of intimidation … more people get disenfranchised because of [long lines] than any other factor."
Still, poll workers reported extremely high turnouts on Election Day. In the 39th Ward’s 14th Division, Republican committeewoman Judy Cerrone said 313 of the 354 voters made it to the polls last week. It was the highest turnout she could recall.
The division overwhelmingly went for Katz, 283 to 30.
"Down here, all we got were two stadiums and never a city service [from Mayor Street]," Cerrone said. "We haven’t seen the mayor in three-and-a-half years. Once he stuck the stadiums down our throats, he disappeared."
Ward by ward in South Philly, this election looked much like the last one. Katz received the majority of votes in the predominantly white areas, while Street took the black neighborhoods and those that are racially split.
Turnout in each ward was about the same as it was in 1999. The Second Ward saw the greatest increase in voters, jumping nearly 5 percent to 48.2 percent.
The 26th Ward (west of Broad, south of Passyunk Avenue) had one of the highest turnouts citywide. Of its 12,217 registered voters, more than 55 percent made it to the polls. Only wards in Oak Lane, Cedarbrook, Holmesburg and two in the Far Northeast saw a larger portion of voters at polling places.
In the First Ward (east of Broad, including most blocks between Washington Avenue and Mifflin Street), almost 46 percent of registered voters turned out. Among those, 63 percent voted for Katz and 36 percent chose Street. Yet Katz received 10 percent fewer votes there than in the last election.
A similar trend occurred in the Second Ward (east of Broad Street, between South Street and Washington Avenue) and the 39th Ward (east of Broad and everything below Mifflin). Katz won both, but in the Second, his support slipped from 69 percent to 58 percent. In the 39th, the Republican dropped from 78 percent last year to 67 percent in 1999.
All three wards have white populations that are predominately Democratic.
Katz gained a little ground in the 26th Ward — also largely white — nudging upwards 0.7 percent compared to four years ago. However, that still translated to fewer voters, even with the 26th’s strong turnout. The total number of registered voters in the area has dipped 1,265 people to 12,217 in the last four years.
Meanwhile the mayor took the 30th, 36th and 48th wards again, and by a greater margin than in 1999. In the predominantly black 36th Ward (most of the blocks between Washington and Moore, west of Broad), Street was the candidate of choice on 86 percent of the ballots, up almost 4 percent from last election. The same thing happened in the 30th (Lombard to Washington, west of Broad), where Street gained more than 3-percent support to capture 69 percent of the vote.
But he stretched his lead the most in the 48th Ward (most blocks between Passyunk and Moore, west of Broad). The mayor was named on 65 percent of the ballots last Tuesday, and in 1999 he received 54 percent of the votes from the same area.
The vote by ward