The Phoenix Network:
 
 
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 

Could Cicilline be in for a surprise on Tuesday?

Primary wisdom
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  September 10, 2010

RIRace_main
ON THE RUN Dems Gemma, Cicilline, Lynch, and Segal, and GOP hopeful Loughlin.

With the Democratic primary for Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District seat in the home stretch, most observers say Providence Mayor David Cicilline is the man to beat. And there is much to recommend the view.

Cicilline is the best known of the candidates vying to replace retiring Congressman Patrick Kennedy. He has raised far more money than his opponents. And he held a comfortable lead over his Democratic rivals in a Brown University poll conducted in late July.

But could Rhode Island's armchair pundits be calling the race too soon? Could Cicilline be in for a surprise on Primary Day?

And should the Democrats be worried about probable Republican nominee John Loughlin II come November?


THE ARGUMENT

The argument for an upset in the Democratic primary usually begins with a critique of the Brown poll, which gave Cicilline 32 percent of the vote, to 15 percent for former state party chairman Bill Lynch, 11 percent for businessman Anthony Gemma, and just under 6 percent for State Representative David Segal of Providence.

The poll had a relatively small sample size of 174 voters who said they were "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to vote in the primary, leaving a larger-than-average margin of error of 7.4 percent.

But more importantly, Segal argues, it cast a net too wide. Plenty of poll respondents say they are going to vote. And these casual voters, only half tuned-in to the race and not terribly committed to showing up on election day, are particularly prone to pick the best-known name — in this case Cicilline — in a survey.

The true turnout will be significantly smaller than the poll would suggest, Segal contends, and built around dedicated supporters of the candidates. This view, of course, dovetails nicely with Segal's campaign strategy: run as the true progressive, luring self-identified liberals and union voters to the polls in large enough numbers to eke out a victory in a low-turnout race.

Lynch also argues that the Brown survey overstates Cicilline's lead. But he says his internal polling points to another problem for the mayor: support that hits a ceiling somewhere between 28 to 32 percent.

With just days to go until the election, he says, roughly three in 10 voters have yet to pick a candidate. And "those 30 percent are not likely to suddenly decide to vote for someone who is seen as an incumbent, career politician," he maintains, particularly in a year of deep voter discontent.

Lynch, naturally, argues that he is best positioned to surge past Cicilline by capitalizing on his base of support in the Blackstone Valley portion of the district: his native Pawtucket, Cumberland, East Providence, and Central Falls.

Gemma, whose family owns Gem Plumbing, entered the contest as the wildcard — the businessman with a thick wallet who might be able to catch fire amid disgust with status-quo politics.

And while the heavy spending some anticipated was slow to come, Gemma told the Phoenix last week that he had spent $400,000 of his own money to date — no small sum. He also promised a game-changing cash infusion in the closing days of the campaign and a sharp critique of his opponents.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |   next >
  Topics: News Features , Politics, Rhode Island, Congress,  More more >
| More


ARTICLES BY DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
  •   AT BROWN, A WIN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISTS  |  April 11, 2013
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG



  |  Sign In  |  Register
 
thePhoenix.com:
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
TODAY'S FEATURED ADVERTISERS
Copyright © 2014 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group