With slightly above average voter turnout, Latino wards go for Kenney, then Díaz
One of big post-election stories has been that of fractured racial voting math. In Tuesday’s Democratic primary, former City Councilman Jim Kenney reaped the lion’s share of total majority-Black wards, upsetting the traditional logic that Philly voters vote by and large along racial lines.
State. Sen Anthony Williams still won the majority of districts in West and Southwest Philly, and as one critic points out, race-based voting hasn’t been entirely erased from the map.
But it isn’t carved in the legend, either.
And looking at the simple math using majority-rules logic, the city’s Latino wards followed a similar suit, favoring Jim Kenney above the sole Latino candidate, Judge Nelson Díaz.
Here’s the breakdown of votes across the four wards:
Jim Kenney: 37 percent
Nelson Diaz: 30 percent
Anthony Williams: 21 percent
Lynne Abraham: 6 percent
Milton Street: 3 percent
Doug Oliver: 2 percent
Latinos represent 13.3 percent of the city’s population, and yet out of 66 wards, only these four — Fairhill, Kensington, Hunting Park, and Juniata Park — are majority Latino. Compare that to 30 Black-majority wards, 23 white-majority wards, and 9 no-majority wards.
There are a number of reasons why Latino wards aren’t an accurate representation of the population. The simple answer is that Latinos, like Asian-Americans, cover a large range of ethnic backgrounds that don’t exist within a unified bubble.
But that’s not the whole story.
In January, AL DÍA reporter Ana Gamboa wrote about how gerrymandering has effectively capped a massive Latino voting block in sections of North Philadelphia. Just north of the Latino-majority wards are the largest cluster of non-majority wards. The only three other no-majority wards are in the area of Temple University, and then Mantua and University City in West Philadelphia.
And the Latino population is still very high in the cluster of no-majority wards in the North, but they are geopolitically severed from the rest large Latino hub around the 7th Councilmanic District.
This all matters because, well, Latinos had a low voter turnout in this 2015 primary election — reaffirming a well-known trend about Latino voting in Philadelphia. But cross-referencing the numbers with past turnouts in these wards, this year’s turnout is a slight improvement. Previous expectations were dismally low, with usual percentages hovering in the single digits, and the optimistic ones breaking double digits.
Between the four wards, the average voter turnout was 14 percent on Tuesday. Hunting Park had the highest with 17 percent; Juniata Park, where Díaz was favored over Kenney, had the lowest with 10 percent. The only ward with a lower voter turnout than Juniata Park was University City with 8 percent.
All things considered, these figures show a margin of increase — if only a hair’s length.
Meanwhile, the Latino voting base is still far from super-ward strength as in parts of the southeast and northwest, where some districts had 39 percent turnouts.
Averaged out, majority-Black wards ranked highest with a 28 percent voter turnout. The white-majority wards averaged a 22 percent turnout. Non-majority wards, nine in total, averaged a 14 percent turnout similar to the Latino wards.