Raimondo leads Taveras in Dem. primary poll

Raimondo, Taveras and Chafee all saw their approval ratings fall since this time last year

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2013

General Treasurer Gina Raimando would have a slight lead over Providence Mayor Taveras in a possible Democratic primary for governor, according to a new statewide poll from the Taubman Center for Public Policy.

The poll, released yesterday, surveyed public opinions of a random sample of 638 Rhode Island voters and found that in response to the question, “If the 2014 Democratic primary for governor were held today, would you vote for: Gina Raimando or Angel Taveras?” 42 percent of respondents reported they would choose Raimando, while 33.6 percent indicated they preferred Taveras.

Democrats, Republicans and Independents all favor Raimondo, as do both men and women, according to the press release.

“One surprise is that Raimando is in fact leading and is leading by a substantial margin,” said Taubman Center Director Marion Orr.

These results differ from an internal poll released by Taveras last month, which suggested that in a primary race between Taveras and Raimando, Taveras would win 49 percent of votes and Raimando 30 percent. Neither Taveras’ nor Raimando’s offices responded to multiple requests for comment.

The significant difference between the findings of these two polls, released within a month of each other, is more likely attributed to differences in polling techniques than to an overall change in likely voters’ opinions, Orr said. But it is difficult to know how the methods used for the poll released by Taveras differed from those for the newest poll, because only select parts of the Taveras poll were released to the public, he added.

Bob Plain, editor and publisher of liberal blog Rhode Island’s Future wrote Wednesday that differences in polling methods, namely whether polls account for landlines, often can yield different predictions for election results and could be responsible for the variation between the polls.

In the 2012 presidential race, some telephone polls, especially those that only called landlines, tended to reflect a more conservative slant, the New York Times reported at the time.

Taubman Center pollers contacted voters by calling the phone numbers written on their voter registration forms, which were “not necessarily landlines,” Orr said.

The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, which conducted the Taveras poll, did not release an explanation of its polling method.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a likely Republican nominee for the gubernatorial race, also fared “surprisingly well” in the Taubman Center poll, though he has less name recognition than Taveras and Raimando, Orr said. In a matchup between Taveras and Fung, 41.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for Taveras and 32.9 percent said they would vote for Fung, while in a race between Raimando and Fung, Raimondo led only slightly, with 37.6 percent of likely votes compared to Fung’s 35.9 percent.

It is still very early to predict the results of next year’s race, Orr said. Neither Raimando or Taveras has registered to run and roughly a quarter of voters remain undecided.

“Voters need to hear more about the issues and need to see the candidates take positions on those issues,” Orr said. Once voters can more clearly see where the candidates stand, “you would expect to see some movement,” he said. There is also a possibility that a candidate might make a mistake further down the road that could diminish his or her chances of being elected governor, he added.

The poll also surveyed approval of current elected officials and found that all officials’ approval ratings, including Taveras’ and Raimando’s, have declined marginally since this time last year.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 approval rating declined from 28.5 percent to 23 percent. He remains among the most unpopular of local elected officials, despite his decision not to seek reelection last month, according to WPRO.

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