The big news from the new poll for both politicos and progressives is that Congressman David Cicilline leapfrogged Brendan Doherty since the last WPRI poll and the liberal incumbent now leads the conservative challenger by six percentage points.
“The new survey of 250 likely voters in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District shows Democrat Cicilline at 44%, Republican Doherty at 38% and independent David Vogel at 6%, with 10% of voters undecided. That’s a 21-point swing since the February WPRI 12 poll, when Doherty led Cicilline 49% to 34%,” wrote Ted Nesi about Cicilline’s surge.
Pollster Joe Fleming said he was “surprised” at the size of the turnaround but I’m not. Rhode Islanders lean left and one of the candidates is and one isn’t liberal. While Doherty will continue to go negative against Cicilline, at the end of the day the incumbent isn’t nearly as toxic as is the Republican brand in the first congressional district.
Similarly, popular progressive Senator Sheldon Whitehouse holds a “commanding” lead over his “little-known” challenger Barry Hinckley. “Whitehouse leads among every subgroup of voters except Republicans,” writes Nesi. “The Democrat has a 26-point lead among women, a 26-point lead among voters ages 60 and older, and a nine-point lead among independents.”
Like the most progressive members of the congressional delegation, progressive policy proposals also fared well in the poll – most notably marriage equality.
“Same-sex marriage enjoys significant support in Rhode Island, with 56% of voters in favor of legalizing it, 36% opposed to doing so and 14% unsure,” according to WPRI. “Support is strongest among Democrats (72% in favor) and voters ages 18 to 39 (64% in favor), while opposition is highest among Republicans (59% opposed) and voters 60 and older (43% opposed).”
The overwhelming support for marriage equality could turn some State House politicians who were on the fence because they may have thought their constituents didn’t support equality.
“Every day more Rhode Islanders are raising a voice in support of marriage equality and this poll should serve as a wake up call to those politicians who continue to oppose equal rights. We look forward to working with legislators from both sides of the aisle when the General Assembly returns in January to finally make Rhode Island a state that honors the commitments and values the worth of all families,” said Ray Sullivan of Marriage Equality Rhode Island in a statement.
One poll question shows Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly supporting protecting Medicare over paying down the national debt by a 64 percent to 32 percent margin. Another shows that while the economy and jobs is the most important issue to Rhode Islanders, with 54 percent of respondents saying so, more than twice as many (18 percent) said healthcare was the most important issue than said taxes (8 percent).
WPRI does a great job putting all their poll results into an interactive graphic that is really fun to play around with.
Later today, the TV station will release the results of poll questions pertaining to Gov. Linc Chafee, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and President Obama.