Over the last couple of weeks we did some informal polling. I purchased a list of Allentown voters with the following parameter, that they had to have voted in each municipal primary since 2009. They were two separate lists, one Democratic and one Republican. We compared our lists to the signatures on the petitions that were submitted by all seven Democratic candidates, and the three at the time Republican candidates. Even after Chris Pez was stricken from the ballot, We removed all those who signed candidate petitions that were on the list I received from the pool of available possible poll participants. We also removed all those known as party operatives and office holders, as well as poll workers. I wanted as "clean" a field to survey as I could get. I also threw out anyone I knew personally. This was an extremely time consuming project, and I would like to thank my two helpers Kathy and Jen for their efforts in making calls and getting this done.
Please realize that I made a calculated decision to concentrate the polling on people that were most likely to vote. WE had 16 voters tell us that they were not voting. We did not ask why, but that means 92% (200) of those 216 that did answer our call were extremely likely to continue their pattern of voting in each and every election. These are the SUPER of the SUPER voters.
There are 57 precincts in Allentown, so it was the intent to call at least 3 voters in each precinct for the Dems, and two in each for the Republicans. We wanted to get at least 110 Allentown Democrats to answer the poll questions, and 90 Republicans. It took 8 days and 298 phone calls to get what might be considered a decent spread of data. Some people hang up and some don't answer the phone, but after receiving 110 Dem and 90 Rep responses, we tallied up the data.
(Note: Even Though Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than three to one in Allentown, Republican turnout is usually greater in Lehigh County overall, and with there being a contested County Executive race on the Republican side, I feel Republican turnout in Allentown will be substantial, so I decided to query an almost comparable number of R's in the mayoral race.
Our query started with telling the voter we were conducting an independent poll on the mayoral election, We first asked if they were going to vote. We made 120 Republican calls, 27 of which got no answer. We had 93 Republicans answer the phone, of which only three said they would probably not vote. We thanked those three for their time and moved on to the next call. Of the 90 who said they would be voting, we asked who they would be voting for.
45 said Nat Hyman, 38 said Luis Garcia, and 7 were undecided. Percentage wise that works out to a Hyman 50%, Garcia 46, and undecided 4%. I can see why Hyman seems desperate to get Garcia out of the race by any means. as a former Democrat who appears to be opportunistically running as a Republican, he is on some very shaky ground. But if he really has the financial backing of the City's movers and shakers, He will likely pull away over the next 6 weeks and easily defeat Garcia. I do think Garcia has a chance, it all depends on whether he gets the minority community engaged in actually participating. He has made inroads with the standard city Republicans, and although the sleeping potential electoral giant of the Hispanic community has not awakened yet, there is always a first time
When I tried to look at what precincts gave which candidate the most support, the best I could see was that Nat Hyman had a good response in the old Fairgrounds area of the City where he owns a great deal of property, so he has a great number of signs out . Garcia had a good cluster in the near West Side, from ninth Street going west. This was a small sampling, but it was only meant to get a general idea of where the candidates stand.
So what about the Democratic side?
We started work on this poll immediately after the news reports of the first Mayoral candidates forum, and the day after news broke that the Incumbent Mayor's former right hand man had made a plea deal in the Pay to Play scandal. we made 178 calls, of which we had 123 answer the phone. We had 13 Dems tell us that they were likely not voting in May.
I will just cut to the chase: Out of 110 responses, Ray O'Connell got the most with 20. Ed Pawlowski had 17, Charlie Thiel 16, Sam Bennett, David Jones, and Josh Siegel each had 13, While Woodring had 2. There were 17 undecided voters.
At first glance, it looks as if the Democratic primary for Mayor is still anybody's to win, except for Woodring. But I think it is important to note that Ray O'Connell appears to have cracked Pawlowski's stone cold solid wall of supporters, and his willingness to confront the mayor face to face in a public forum scored him some points. Pawlowski's "What Clouds?" response to those pointing out the obvious uneasiness hanging over Allentown's business climate as a result of the Federal Investigation depicted him as both arrogant and delusional.
This research is not the most scientific, and we did not have the greatest of resources to carry it out, but we tried to be fair and as broad based in the query as possible. This method has its strengths, but also its faults, so take it with a grain of salt. Also note we stopped making calls when we got the targeted number of responses.
So after looking at the answers, I think that Pawlowski is going to start fading on the Democratic side, with O'Connell and Thiel the top two and Sam Bennett right behind, after that it is a pick'em for what order they come in. Yes, Pawlowski may do no better than fourth when all is said and done, especially if an indictment comes down before the Primary. He still might win, if his base stays loyal enough and the turnout low enough, but that likelihood seems to be slipping away.
That means that come November, it will likely be either O'Connell or Thiel destroying Hyman in a landslide. That is where it appears to stand as of now.