Poll shows Raimondo, Fung tied for governor’s seat

Taubman Center administers second poll in two weeks, though director says new poll not tied to backlash

Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Less than a week before the Nov. 4 general election, gubernatorial candidates Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung are in a statistical tie for the lead, according to a Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions poll released Tuesday. This newest poll comes just five days after the Taubman Center’s previous poll released Oct. 23, which showed Raimondo leading by 11 percentage points. 

Tuesday’s results indicate 38 percent of voters surveyed expressed support for Raimondo, while 37.4 percent showed support for Fung. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, according to the Taubman press release.

Volatility is normal in an election, but “this is really strange,” said Scott MacKay, a political analyst for Rhode Island Public Radio. The disparity between the two polls could be explained by the fact that 500 of the 1,129 people surveyed in the first poll were from Providence, disproportionate to the population ratios, MacKay said.

Patrick Sweeney, Fung’s campaign manager, criticized the Oct. 23 poll for “oversampling” people from the Democratic-leaning city of Providence, the Providence Journal reported. Independent candidate Robert Healey — whose support increased from 9.1 to 11.8 percent from the first poll to the second — also said the original poll was likely skewed toward Democrats.

But the Taubman Center did not run the second poll in response to the backlash, said James Morone, director of the Taubman Center. Instead, it began working on the most recent poll just one hour after releasing the Oct. 23 poll because it was criticized for not originally covering the attorney general’s race, he added.

The Taubman Center looked carefully at the differences in voting preferences between Providence and the rest of Rhode Island and found no systematic difference, Morone said. The Taubman Center oversampled Providence residents in order to accurately poll for the Providence mayoral race, he added.

“Providence was the perfect microcosm of Rhode Island,” Morone said.

The Oct. 23 poll used a standard method for predicting likely voters — surveying people about whether they were likely voters and whether they were going to vote in the upcoming election, Morone said. The second poll’s process for predicting likely voters was more rigorous because it involved calling people who had voted in the 2012 general election and in either the 2012 primaries, the 2010 midterm elections or the 2010 primaries, Morone added.

The results of the most recent poll reveal that Raimondo “is having serious problems with her base,” Morone said.

According to the Taubman Center’s cross-tabulations, half of Democrats support Raimondo, one-fourth support Fung and one-tenth support Healey.

Some Democrats may not vote for Raimondo due to her support of a major pension overhaul, which was controversial and unpopular with union-affiliated voters, MacKay said.

“If the election were held tomorrow, Raimondo would win by two points,” Morone predicted.

The second poll also surveyed voter preference on the attorney general’s race. Results show that Democratic candidate Peter Kilmartin has a 13-point lead over Republican opponent Dawson Hodgson.

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