Miriam Hill, Andrew Seidman, and John Duchneskie from Philly.com report that in almost sixty voting divisions in Philadelphia, Mitt Romney did not get a single vote. Not one. Nada, nihil, zilch, zero, none. Bupkis.
Philadelphia is known as a very Democratic-leaning city, and most big cities tend to be “politically homogenous,” meaning that the vast majority of inhabitants tend to favor one political party strongly.
All the same, we can expect for Republicans to start hollering about “voter fraud” anew. Philly.com quotes Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives: “[Miskin] brought up his party’s voter-identification initiative – which was held off for this election – and said, “We believe we need to continue ensuring the integrity of the ballot.” The absence of a voter-ID law, however, would not stop anyone from voting for a Republican candidate.”
Philadelphia Inquirer reporters, using voter registration lists (which often do not get updated promptly, whereas people frequently change addresses and move about in our increasingly mobile society), found twelve registered Republicans in one of the voting divisions, but when reporters tried to call these Republicans on the phone or visit them at their home addresses, they were unable to do so.
In an interesting twist, a few of the voters who were registered as Republicans told The Inquirer that they were not, in fact, Republicans. James Norris, listed as a Republican, was perplexed and said he was a Democrat and voted for Obama. Eric Sapp reacted in a similar fashion when told he was registered as a Republican. Sapp voted for Obama, and was displeased to hear about the erroneous data. Duke Dunston said he knows he is registered as a Republican, but he has never once voted for one.
The 15th voting division cast zero votes for McCain in 2008 and zero votes for Romney this time, despite eighteen Republicans listed in registration records. The 15th division isn’t the only one to reject the GOP candidate thoroughly: thirteen other divisions also had no votes cast for McCain or Romney.
Democrat Anthony Clark is a city commissioner and the leader of Philly’s 28th Ward. He stressed that Democrats are good at door-knocking, distributing political literature, talking to people about their political concerns and keeping in touch with residents, and that Republicans have failed to convince many African-American communities that they understood them or were interested in working with them or addressing issues people of color care about.
Clark, when pressed, struggled to think of anyone in his Ward who ever identified himself or herself openly as a Republican. Eventually he remembered that the GOP leader in the 29th Ward was an urban black Republican named Lewis Harris.
Harris voted for Romney, but claimed to “love” both candidates. He feels that city neighborhoods benefit when both major political parties show an interest and get involved in communities. Many parts of Philadelphia and similar large metropolises simply lack Republican voters.
Mark Sawyer, a political science professor at UCLA, notes that Obama’s mixed race heritage is inspiring to African-American citizens, but the real story is that Republicans have left behind some of the affirmative action and urban development platforms that Republicans like Richard Nixon and Jack Kemp once touted as part of their platforms.
Mitt Romney disparaging the 47% of “dependents” who only want “free stuff” also insulted minorities, who are weary of hearing similar talking points directed towards people benefiting from welfare. The stereotype is that the average welfare recipient is a minority (actually, the average welfare recipient is now white), and people of color recognize that this divisive talk about “takers and makers” appeals mostly to resentful low-information whites in the conservative base.
Joe Biden, a lifetime member of the NAACP, came off as more engaging and supportive when talking to representatives of the group, some of whom were clearly long-time personal friends of Biden’s. Mitt Romney, conversely, fared rather poorly, especially when he vowed to repeal Obamacare. The NAACP audience members expressed their disapproval.
“We have always had these dense urban corridors that are extremely Democratic,” said Jonathan Rodden, a political science professor at Stanford University. “It’s kind of an urban fact, and you are looking at the extreme end of it in Philadelphia.” [...] In some of those divisions, it’s not only Romney supporters who are missing. Republicans in general are nearly extinct. [...]
Cities are not only bursting with Democrats: They are easier to organize than rural areas where people live far apart from one another, said Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. “One reason Democrats can maximize votes in Philadelphia is that it’s very easy to knock on every door,” Issenberg said.
Still, was there not one contrarian voter in those 59 divisions, where unofficial vote tallies have President Obama outscoring Romney by a combined 19,605 to 0?
Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia who has studied African American precincts, said he had occasionally seen 100 percent of the vote go for the Democratic candidate. Chicago and Atlanta each had precincts that registered no votes for Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008. “I’d be surprised if there weren’t a handful of precincts that didn’t cast a vote for Romney,” he said. But the number of zero precincts in Philadelphia deserves examination, Sabato added. “Not a single vote for Romney or even an error? That’s worth looking into.”
Unanimous support for Obama and rejection of Romney in West and North Philadelphia voting divisions is not surprising: Residents are predominately African-American Democrats. The GOP has managed to offend many people of color by persistently insulting President Obama, supporting policies that hurt union members and the working poor, and offering few political policies that hold strong appeal for African-Americans.
Republicans may suspect voter fraud, but when you have fewer than a dozen registered Republicans in a district (some of which claim they are not Republicans at all), when 93% of all African-Americans in the United States voted for Obama, when Republican pundits, politicians and talking heads have spent the past few years saying horribly ugly things about minorities (including gay people and women), when the GOP candidate is arguably thoroughly unlikable (and that’s just listening to what his fellow Republicans have said) and when the districts that cast no votes for Romney were also almost 100% African-American, voter fraud remains unlikely.
Remember when a white Tea Partier took pictures of two “Black Panthers” outside a polling place, and the right-wing exploded with angst about Scary Black Men allegedly oppressing voters at the polls? That, too, happened in Philadelphia, in an almost 100% black division, and one of the gentlemen who scared the pearl-clutching Teabagger so much was a registered, legitimate, trained poll worker. I suspect that black people in Philadelphia were not crazy about being accused of voter intimidation in their own neighborhoods, especially after the Republicans had worked hard to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voting blocs…including African Americans…and when it seemed like every week another Republican politician or conservative voting precinct was being exposed for voter registration fraud, trying to cut back on early voting hours, telling Hispanic voters the wrong day and locations to vote, or worse. That’s the real fraud.
It’s much more likely that black folks don’t like Romney any more than he likes them…his Mormon faith didn’t even recognize African-Americans as full and equal members in the church until 1978. Perhaps there is just a wee bit of internalized “you are not equal to me” messaging in Romney’s mind that people of color can’t help but sense, and maybe, understandably, they feel a wee bit offended. Could you really vote for someone who seems to hold your entire race in contempt?
Oh, hey, Bill Clinton is here. Say, Bill Clinton…how many votes did Mitt Romney get in all 59 of those voting divisions in Philadelphia, again?
That’s right. Not a single one.
Perhaps Republicans need to meditate upon that, and not look for non-existent voter I.D. fraud, but at the policies that failed to entice any voters in all those districts to cast a vote for their candidate.