November 09, 2012|By Miriam Hill, Jonathan Lai, and Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Staff Writers
Some Philadelphia neighborhoods outdid themselves in Tuesday's presidential election.
In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.
Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.
Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.
"In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man," said Edgar "Sonny" Campbell.
Campbell is leader of West Philadelphia's Fourth Ward, where Obama received 9,955 votes. Romney? Just 55. That's five fewer than McCain in 2008.
Campbell acknowledged that the odds are stacked in his favor in Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber GOP voters by nearly 7-1.
"You are looking at black neighborhoods where you have 1,000 voters in a division and maybe seven Republicans," he said. "We are shocked if Romney got any votes."
Even so, Randall Miller, a history professor at St. Joseph's University, said politicians almost never get 99 percent of the votes anywhere except, perhaps, the towns where they were born.
He said the Democratic voter turnout effort deserved credit for the president's success.
"Ninety-nine percent is extraordinary, and it shows discipline as much as anything else," he said.
Philadelphia's numbers were tilted so far in favor of Obama that one incredulous Republican revived the specter of voter fraud.
House Speaker Sam Smith, musing over "staggering" turnout in some city precincts and reacting to wrong information that "90 percent of the precincts in Philadelphia County turned out over 90 percent of voters," called the ability to get such numbers "questionable."
Smith's math does not add up. Voter turnout in Philadelphia was around 60 percent, according to state election figures.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D. Phila.) responded swiftly. He said Philadelphians came out to vote because they were tired of the "hard-right" Republican agenda.
"If they believe there was a corruption of the process, then go to court and challenge it. Show the people of Pennsylvania," Hughes said. "Beyond that, shut up." Read More>
Obama could get up in front of the country and say he cheated for the good of the country and people still wouldn't care.