Mar 20, 2023 - Politics

Does ballot position matter in Philly mayor election?

Illustration of a pattern of blue checkmarks.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Much has been made of the “coffee can of destiny” after little-known mayoral candidate John Wood drew the top spot on the ballot among a dozen candidates in this year’s Democratic primary.

What they’re saying: Wood was surprised by the lucky draw, and a lot of candidates feel positioning matters in a crowded race.

  • “I think it lifts me tremendously, gets me some donations, maybe some endorsements,” Wood told WHYY.

The intrigue: We went back in time to see whether pole position has mattered. Shout out to Nick Custodio of the Philadelphia City Commissioners office who helped track down documents for us.

  • Here's the rundown of the winners' ballot position and the size of the field.

2019 — Jim Kenney was #1, in a three-person field.

2015 — Kenney was #3, in a field of six.

2011 — Michael Nutter was #2; his only opponent was Milton Street.

2007 — Nutter was #3, in a crowd of seven.

And if we keep going back: In 1999, John Street won after drawing the #1 slot in a four-person field.

  • In 1991, winner Ed Rendell drew #5 among five, per NBC 10.

For the political wonks: Here’s this year's full ballot:

  1. John Wood
  2. Cherelle Parker
  3. James DeLeon
  4. Rebecca Rhynhart
  5. Delscia Gray
  6. Derek Green
  7. Amen Brown
  8. Jeff Brown
  9. María Quiñones Sánchez
  10. Warren Bloom
  11. Allan Domb
  12. Helen Gym

🧠 Be smart: May 1 is the last day to register to vote in the mayoral primary. Election Day is May 16.

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