In 59 Philadelphia voting divisions, Mitt Romney got zero votes
November 13, 2012|By Miriam Hill, Andrew Seidman, and John Duchneskie, Inquirer Staff Writers
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It's one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch.
These are the kind of numbers that send Republicans into paroxysms of voter-fraud angst, but such results may not be so startling after all.
"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."
Most big cities are politically homogeneous, with 75 percent to 80 percent of voters identifying as Democrats.
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?
The unanimous support for Obama in these Philadelphia neighborhoods - clustered in almost exclusively black sections of West and North Philadelphia - fertilizes fears of fraud, despite little hard evidence.
Upon hearing the numbers, Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 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.
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," he said.