From Daniel Malloy in Philadelphia
The basement of Saint Edmund's Catholic Church on 21st Street in South Philadelphia was mostly empty with about half an hour to go before the polls closed today, though that can be partially attributed to the athletic contest going on a few blocks away at the Wachovia Center -- the Flyers and Montreal Canadiens (sorry Pens fans) are contesting Game 2 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals tonight, a matchup that probably means a lot more to most Philadelphians than the Arlen Specter-Joe Sestak Democratic senatorial primary. Turnout has been reportedly down across the state, a mixture of apathy and poor weather, but the poll workers here were putting a positive spin on things: For a non-presidential, non-mayoral year primary on a rainy day, turnout was pretty brisk, they said.
At 7:30 or so, 301 voters had made their selections at this polling place, out of about 1750 who are eligible. Didn't sound like much of a turnout to this reporter, but South Philly's poll workers said it was a strong number. One of the workers, who asked not to be identified because she shouldn't be talking politics on the job, said she voted for Specter -- and expected the incumbent to win Philadelphia. She said she voted for him for years even though he was a Republican and said most of the folks she has talked to today were in the same boat. Issues of local importance, like the dredging of the Delaware River to improve ship traffic, are going to drive voters to Specter's camp, our friendly poll worker said.
But one fella who would give his name on his way out of the booth, 50-year-old Wayne Harper, said he was in the Sestak camp.
"To me, he's still a Republican," Harper said. "Arlen Specter," he paused, "I can't do it."
To be fair, Harper did not know the Flyers were playing until I mentioned it, so he may not be representative of the voting public in this town.