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Two polls show Kenney opening up a lead in Phila. mayoral primary race

Two polls conducted last week on behalf of James F. Kenney showed that he has opened a statistically significant lead over State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams in the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Philadelphia, while Lynne M. Abraham has slipped to a more distant third.

Two polls conducted last week on behalf of James F. Kenney showed that he has opened a statistically significant lead over State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams in the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Philadelphia, while Lynne M. Abraham has slipped to a more distant third.

Kenney, with 33 percent of those polled, led Williams by nine points in a survey financed by Forward Philadelphia, a PAC formed to promote Kenney's candidacy and funded, in part, by the American Federation of Teachers. Abraham had 18 percent in that poll, which was conducted Monday through Wednesday. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were undecided.

Kenney's campaign conducted its own poll from April 18 through Tuesday. That survey had Kenney at 30 percent, Williams at 26 percent, and Abraham at 17 percent, with 17 percent undecided.

The remainder of the field - Doug Oliver, Nelson A. Diaz, and T. Milton Street Sr. - was in the low single digits in each poll.

The poll figures suggest a surge for Kenney even in the face of a $2 million-plus television ad campaign being conducted for Williams. The cost of that campaign is double what has been spent to promote Kenney.

The polls also show significant movement for Kenney when compared with results of a survey released last week by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Kenney had the support of 26 percent of likely Democratic voters, while Williams had 25 percent and Abraham 22 percent, according to results of the poll conducted April 9 to 15.

Kenney's campaign poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Washington polling firm. Hart Research Associates, also of Washington, conducted the survey for Forward Philadelphia. There have been no independent polls conducted so far.

Hart Research interviewed 601 registered Democrats who said they were likely to vote in the May 19 primary. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Besides showing Kenney with a nine-point lead overall, the Forward Philadelphia poll found both Kenney and Abraham picking up a not-inconsiderable portion of the African American vote.

Kenney was pulling 24 percent to Abraham's 12 percent. Williams, the leading black candidate in the race, attracted 38 percent. Conventional wisdom has Williams needing to attract 70 percent or more of the black vote to win.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner interviewed 505 registered Democrats. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll, ending a day earlier than the Hart survey, showed Williams drawing 44 percent of the African American vote, with 16 percent for Kenney and 11 percent for Abraham.

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