Brown’s recent gubernatorial poll has received a lot of attention. The dubious primary results, which show Raimondo beating Taveras in a Democratic primary where most voters aren’t Democrats, have been widely mocked. (For comparison, a Taveras internal by a reputable pollster put Taveras up 19 points.) The general election portion, however, is significantly more plausible, although nearly a quarter of registered Democrats are mysteriously missing.
One nugget from Brown’s poll is especially interesting. Even though the poll shows Raimondo winning the primary, Taveras still fares better than Raimondo in the general. Raimondo beats Fung by only 1.7 points. In a state as blue as Rhode Island, that’s a horrendous margin for a Democrat.
Of course, in the topsy-turvy world of Rhode Island politics, where Democrats are often just as conservative as Republicans, this makes perfect sense. Because Raimondo is so far to the right, many Taveras voters hate her, and they simply won’t vote for her in the general. In particular, workers whose pensions she helped cut will find it especially hard to vote for Raimondo. Fung may get a lot of spite votes.
Raimondo’s problems go far beyond the handful of Democrats who will actually vote for a Republican. The real concern is all the Democratic base voters who will stay home. Many of these voters might reluctantly tell a pollster they would vote for Raimondo, but if it is raining, if it was a long day at work, if there is something good on TV, it would be hard for them to take an hour out of their day to vote for a candidate they dislike.
Even this is painting too rosy a picture for Raimondo. If she makes it to the general, she will enter it after a bruising primary drowning in a deluge of negative ads. Having faced no opposition in the Republican primary, Fung will be flush with cash and ready to pounce. If Raimondo is really only two points up before the mud has started flying, it is very hard to see her emerging the final victor.
Many observers believe this is a good poll for Raimondo, but if it were real, it would pose a very serious threat. When a deeply flawed candidate leads in the primary, threatening what should be an easy general election victory, that’s the rare recipe for the national party establishment to get involved in the primary. Raimondo had better hope the Brown poll is wrong. If more polls like this one emerge, expect electability to be a major argument against her candidacy.