With a plurality of voters — 20% — still undecided, the election’s results are far from predetermined. Rebecca Rhynhart leads in poll showing what voters’ preferences would be with a ranked-choice voting method, if it were allowed in Pennsylvania.
PHILADELPHIA – APRIL 28, 2023 – In the first nonpartisan public poll of the 2023 Philadelphia mayor’s race, the nonprofit Committee of Seventy found a statistical tie in the race to be the city’s 100th mayor. With a 3.8% credibility interval (similar to a margin of error), the survey of likely Democratic voters found that leading the pack were Rebecca Rhynhart (18%), Cherelle Parker (17%), Helen Gym (15%), Allan Domb (14%) and Jeff Brown (11%). With two and a half weeks to go, 20% of voters remain undecided.
In addition to the “horserace” poll results, Committee of Seventy also surveyed respondents on how they’d rank their choices for mayor if given that option — a popular method of voting used in approximately 60 cities including New York City, Minneapolis and Oakland. Ranked-choice voting — also known as “instant runoff voting” — eliminates candidates one-at-a-time until one candidate wins with more than 50% of votes. If a voter’s first choice is eliminated, their ballot counts for their next highest ranked candidate. In the Committee of Seventy’s poll, Rhynhart came in first and Parker came in second when voters were given the option of ranking.
“These results make clear what we knew all along: that every vote matters,” said Lauren Cristella, Committee of Seventy’s interim president and chief operating officer. “We want every eligible voter to vote, to be informed when they vote, and to vote with confidence. This poll is a snapshot in time that hopefully gives voters an additional piece of information to use when they walk into a voting booth or complete a mail-in ballot. There are a lot of great tools available to help voters make the right decisions for themselves and their families, and we undertook this poll to add one more tool to the toolbox.”
After pushing undecided voters to make a choice, 15% remained undecided. Among those who selected a candidate:
Full poll details are available here.
Committee of Seventy commissioned the poll as a resource to voters in partnership with FairVote, Urban Affairs Coalition, The Philadelphia Citizen, and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The poll interviewed 1,500 Philadelphia adults via phone and text from April 21-25, 2023, about their voter registration status and likelihood to vote, and weighted responses to U.S. Census targets for gender, age, race and home ownership. Candidate percentages were drawn from the 1,013 Democratic respondents who had already cast their ballots or were likely to do so.
“With multiple candidates within the confidence interval and a fifth of likely voters still undecided, the race is still wide open,” said Sharmain Matlock-Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition. “We’re excited to work with partners across the city to make sure that every eligible Philadelphian gets out and makes their voice heard in this election.”
Committee of Seventy included the option for voters to rank their preferences of candidates to observe how ranked-choice voting operates, and how it can affect outcomes. Although Rhynhart scored highest in both scenarios, the ranked-choice option factored in voters’ second, third, fourth and fifth preferences and therefore offers more nuanced and complete information on each candidate’s level of support.
Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, the national leading authority on ranked-choice voting, said: “Ranked choice voting is the fastest-growing nonpartisan electoral reform in the nation because it produces fair, representative outcomes that reflect the will of voters and give elected officials a true mandate to lead. Philadelphia’s closely divided and competitive mayoral primary offers a perfect example of the limitations of our single-choice elections, and the city would be an ideal place to implement better elections with ranked choice voting.”
The official poll also surveyed how easy respondents found it to vote using ranked-choice methods. Although fewer than half of those surveyed had heard of the method before taking the poll, nearly 80% said it was “easy” or “very easy” to do, and more than half said they would “support” or “strongly support” using ranked-choice voting for city elections in Philadelphia.
Anyone who wants to see a model of ranked-choice voting in action can use the Committee of Seventy’s survey tool at seventy.org/ranked-vote, which shows a real-time example of how the method calculates votes. This unscientific survey tool will remain active through the primary election on May 16.
“I’m proud that the Chamber has partnered with the Committee of Seventy, the Urban Affairs Coalition, The Philadelphia Citizen and FairVote to get this polling data into the hands of Philadelphia voters,” said Chellie Cameron, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. “Our city is at an inflection point, and meaningful partnerships and dialogue are critical as we explore new solutions and resources.”
Additional resources for voters — including the Committee of Seventy’s Interactive Voter Guide, polling place locator, and information about how to become a poll worker — are available at https://seventy.org/
“While we’re proud to be able to offer results of the first public poll in this race, we hope it won’t be the last,” added the Committee of Seventy’s Cristella. “If more institutions conduct quality, nonpartisan polls in the coming weeks, that can only help give voters more resources. And whether by signing up to work the polls, volunteering for a candidate, or just being a voter who talks to their neighbors about voting, every Philadelphian has an important role to play in determining our city’s future.”
About the Committee of Seventy
The Committee of Seventy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has promoted, supported and facilitated government ethics and election integrity for more than a century. We believe that elections should be more free, fair, safe and secure. The Committee of Seventy believes that finding common ground is the only path toward a vibrant and open democracy. Approaching problems through a bipartisan framework will lead to outcomes that improve our city, our state and our country.
For more information, find us at: seventy.org