Poll: Raimondo, Fung ‘effectively tied’ for gov

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung are “effectively tied” in the race to be Rhode Island’s next governor, with Moderate Bob Healey now winning double-digit support, according to a new survey released Tuesday by Brown University.

The poll of 500 likely voters in Rhode Island shows Raimondo at 38%, Fung at 37%, and Healey at 12%. Another 11% of voters remain undecided. Independents Kate Fletcher and Leon Kayarian received 1% combined.

The landline and cell-phone interview poll was conducted Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 by San Francisco-based David Binder Research Inc. on behalf of Brown’s Taubman Center; last week’s Brown poll was conducted by Warwick-based Portable Insights Inc. The new survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.4 percentage points.

The results are in marked contrast with the Brown poll released last week that showed Raimondo with an 11-point lead; however, that survey was 44% Providence voters, even though the city only made up about 10% of the votes cast statewide in the 2010 election, and was strongly criticized by Fung’s campaign manager.

But Jim Morone, director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy, said the results from Providence in last week’s poll were not significantly different from those statewide, suggesting the city didn’t throw off the results. He argued the major difference was the way Brown screened for likely voters this time, by checking if they voted in the November 2012 election; if they voted in either the September 2010, November 2010 or September 2012 elections; and if they planned to vote or already had voted this year.

“If you get undecideds down far enough, it changes the numbers a lot,” Morone told WPRI.com.

Raimondo’s 0.6-point lead in the new Brown poll is the slimmest she’s had in the various public surveys of the race released since mid-September. An online-only New York Times/CBS News/YouGov survey released Monday showed Raimondo with a 5-point lead over Fung.

“If you look across polls, the higher the undecided the better Gina is doing,” Morone said, noting that the Times/CBS/YouGov survey found 21% of voters undecided. One of the biggest challenges facing Raimondo, he said, is that the new poll shows her winning only 52% of Democrats, suggesting she “has not solidified the Democratic base.”

In the race for Rhode Island attorney general, Democratic incumbent Peter Kilmartin is at 51%, while his Republican challenger Dawson Hodgson is at 38%, with 10% of voters still undecided.

The two surveys Brown released this month are the first conducted by the university since it overhauled its political polling operation following widespread criticism of its practices and questions about the accuracy of its results.

The 500 respondents surveyed by Brown were 46% men and 54% women; 12% ages 18-39, 40% ages 40-59 and 44% ages 60 and older; and 44% Democrats, 13% Republicans and 43% independents, according to information released by the university.

Raimondo is seeking to become the first Democrat elected Rhode Island governor since Bruce Sundlun won a second term in 1992; outgoing incumbent Lincoln Chafee won in 2010 as an independent but became a Democrat last year. A Fung win would be the eighth Republican gubernatorial victory in Rhode Island since 1984; the most recent GOP governor, Don Carcieri, won with 54% of the vote in 2002 and 51% in 2006.

Both major-party candidates are bringing in big names this week to boost their campaigns in the final stretch. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is visiting Providence and Cranston with Fung this afternoon. The first lady, Michelle Obama, is coming Thursday for Raimondo, while President Obama is coming Friday to deliver a speech, though it’s not being billed as a campaign event.

The general election is Nov. 4.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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