The nonpartisan Committee of 70 released the first independent poll on the Philadelphia mayoral race this morning, and it shows the race narrowed to five viable candidates with no clear leader among them.

Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart leads the pack with eighteen percent of the vote, while former City Councilmember Cherelle Parker pulls in seventeen percent. Two more former councilmembers, Helen Gym and Allan Domb, are right behind Parker with fifteen percent and fourteen percent, respectively. Businessman Jeff Brown rounds out the pack with twelve percent.

None of these figures represent a firm lead for any candidate in the Philadelphia mayoral race, and with the poll’s margin of error pegged at 3.8 percent, the differences between the top few candidates are tiny.

The largest fraction of the 1,013 Democratic voters surveyed — twenty percent — said they remain undecided about their choice. With less than a month remaining, the race remains wide-open.

READ MORE — From the Editors: If we want representative nominees, Pennsylvania needs two-round primaries

The Committee of 70’s poll, conducted in conjunction with FairVote, Urban Affairs Coalition, the Philadelphia Citizen, and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, is also unusual in that it asked voters’ opinion on their second, third, fourth, and fifth choices for mayor, an attempt to assess how the race would play out if Philadelphia were to adopt a system of ranked-choice voting as many other cities (including New York) have done.

In such a system, voters would rank their choices in order of preference. The lowest-ranked candidates would be knocked out in each successive round and their voters reallocated based on each voter’s subsequent rankings. Applying this system to the survey data would result in a final round victory for Rhynhart. 

While such a system could not be instituted in time for next month’s primary, the profusion of candidates in this and other races has led to rising recognition of the flaws in the current system, where a candidate with as little as twenty percent of the election day vote could end up the nominee.

The survey asked people their opinions on ranked choice voting; 53 percent expressed support for the idea while 22 percent opposed it, the remainder being undecided.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @broadandliberty

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