Cicilline energized; Doherty’s poll shows he’s ‘the underdog’

Brendan Doherty can still beat David Cicilline, but the math is getting tougher.

Doherty’s campaign revealed Thursday it commissioned a poll last week that shows the Republican with a slim lead over the Democratic incumbent. Campaign manager Ian Prior declined to release the head-to-head results but said Doherty’s lead is within the survey’s 4-point margin of error.

Doherty’s poll of 400 voters on Sept. 13 and 14 was conducted by OnMessage Inc., a GOP consulting firm that previously worked for former Gov. Donald Carcieri. The survey sampled 52% registered independents, 32% registered Democrats and 14% registered Republicans.

The Cicilline campaign quickly pointed out OnMessage’s sample doesn’t reflect actual voter registration numbers in the 1st District or their own estimate of likely voters’ partisan makeup, which is 47% Democrats, 44% independents and 9% Republicans.

“We can only speak for this campaign – we don’t spend any money on feel-good polling,” Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers told “If other campaigns want to do polls that are designed to get them numbers they can use in the press or fundraising, that’s fine. It’s not what we do.”

The disclosure about Doherty’s poll comes the same week Democrats released two polls they commissioned showing Cicilline with a double-digit lead. Prior dismissed those findings but didn’t dispute that the race has tightened since a February WPRI 12 poll gave Doherty a 15-point lead.

“We are the underdog because we’re going against the incumbent – and we like being the underdog,” Prior told “Even when our lead was 15 points we still considered ourselves the underdogs.”

Hyers said Prior’s objections to the Democratic polls are off base, citing the experience of the two firms that conducted them, Benenson Strategy Group and The Feldman Group, and the fact they got similar results separately. “We have a lot of momentum on our side right now,” Hyers said.

“Three separate polls have all confirmed that this race has changed and things are moving in David’s direction,” he said. “We like where this race is right now and we’re going to continue to work incredibly hard and run like we’re 10 points down.”

While no independent polling has been done in the race since February, it appears Cicilline benefited significantly from running positive TV ads during the summer without any Republican opposition on the airwaves. He also faced an unorthodox campaign by Anthony Gemma rather than a more traditional challenger and is no longer weathering a drumbeat of negative headlines about Providence’s finances.

The OnMessage poll showed Cicilline’s job approval rating is in positive territory, with 46% approving of his work in Congress and 43% disapproving, but his favorability rating is still under water, with 48% of voters having an unfavorable opinion of him and 42% having a favorable opinion.

The poll showed Doherty is still unknown among a significant share of voters. He has a 45% favorable rating and 22% unfavorable rating, 26% with no opinion and 7% who haven’t heard of him. That mirrors a Democratic poll last week that found 69% of voters have an opinion of Doherty.

9 thoughts on “Cicilline energized; Doherty’s poll shows he’s ‘the underdog’

  1. If this clown gets reelected all voters need to be given a competency test . Rhode Island liberals will never learn . A guy leaves Providence in financial shambles and he leads ?

    • George, I agree with you but sadly this election was over on primary day. Doherty does not know how to campaign and has an incompent staff. He blew his load when he was not on the attack before the prmary.

      • Ed,

        With all due respect, you’re dead wrong on this. Doherty does not have the advantage of the Dem
        Machine and by all accounts, his team is the best that a Republican has been able to cobble together in quite some time. Perfect? Absolutely not – whoever is calling their paid media strategy is out to lunch. But I personally have seen them in action in the field and they are organized, inspired, and their leader seems to be a “wartime consigliere.”

  2. I have to repost my earlier comment since Ted is rerunning the same story under a different headline.
    Of course he is going to get elected. You could put Vladamir Putin on the ballot as a Democrat and Rhode Islanders would vote for him for no other reason than he is a democrat. You could divide the population of the state into idiots that actually believe voting Democrat no matter what is in their best interests and the crooks who actually do profit from having a corrupt one party state run by democrats.
    I realize this particular corrupt democrat is running for us congress and not a state office, but the reason that people will vote for him is the same. They are idiots raised by idiots to never consider a thing other than what party the Politian is from.
    This state will never move forward. The best it can hope for is to ride the coat tails of the rest of the country and maybe the region after others have taken steps to help themselves. Rhode Islanders will continue to look for ways to get something for nothing or wait for someone else to give them a handout.
    Too many people that benefit from the status quo hold the power and in a small state like this it is very hard to nearly impossible to build a counter weight to that power.
    So Rhode Island will forever be a welfare state that will only raise taxes on a constantly dwindling tax base until it finally implodes on itself. Hopefully sooner than later.

  3. Doherty’s people crack me up. “We are the underdog because we’re going against the incumbent – and we like being the underdog,” Prior told “Even when our lead was 15 points we still considered ourselves the underdogs.”


  4. Brendan Doherty should win…and it does not help his campaign when his so-called supporters spend their time ripping his campaign apart instead of spending quality time discussing his opponenet’s terrible record.
    If Cicilline wins, it’s because no one is talking about what he did to Providence. Instead, the media is focusing on polls and strategies…so how can you blame the electorate? I haven’t heard anything about Cicilline’s lack of productivity in Washington. What about that Washington club Cicilline formed…….to foster bipartisan understanding by going to the movies together and having lunch!! That’s what we’re paying him for?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s