Only One Philly Ward Liked Both Obama and Bernie
Here’s a strange nugget from yesterday’s primary results: 6 out of the 7 wards* where a majority of voters cast ballots for Bernie Sanders … went for Hillary Clinton back in 2008. In some cases, the change between elections was staggering.
Take the three most-decidedly pro-Sanders wards: 31, 18 — which are neighboring wards covering the Fishtown/Port Richmond area — and 1, which connects Pennsport and East Passyunk (ed note: It’s where I voted). Look at the disparity in Clinton votes during the past two contested Democratic primaries within each of those blocs:
Clinton ’08: 68.9 %
Clinton ’16: 37.8 %
Differential: – 31.1 %
Clinton ’08: 56.8 %
Clinton ’16: 43.2 %
Differential: – 13.6 %
Clinton ’08: 63.6 %
Clinton ’16: 44.0 %
Differential: – 19.6 %
These micro outcomes are even stranger considering that Clinton nearly doubled her vote citywide this time around, winning 63 percent of the vote compared to 35 against then-Senator Barack Obama. That means most of the wards that turned out for Obama — including the wards with the most African-American voters — flipped to Clinton. (Looked at another way, there’s only one ward, 27 in West Philly — that went for both Obama and Sanders.)
So what gives with these fickle voters? Who the hell are they and what do they want?
According to census data, these three neighborhoods skew younger than the city average, are more likely to have residents who’ve never married and although they’re predominately white, they have diversified significantly since 1990, according to this Pew analysis. Apparently, they’re also highly contrarian and like to play Democratic spoiler.
On the Republican side, the trends are less intriguing, given that not a single member of the remaining trio of candidates — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich — was a candidate at this stage in the election during the years we’re comparing. If you can remember back to ’08, the three-way Republican primary (Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, John McCain) in Philly was a lopsided victory for McCain, who took 79 percent of the vote and neither of the two upstarts took 50 percent of the vote in any ward. But looking at 2016 alone, the wards displaying the highest margin of victory for Trump tended to also be the most heavily caucasian parts of town — the far Northeast, near Northeast and Deep South Philly.
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*Those seven include the 39th ward, which, with 94 percent of the precincts reporting was narrowly in the Sanders column.