Cicilline gets good news: ahead in polls, race now ‘Leans Dem’

David Cicilline is having a pretty good week.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released two polls since last Tuesday’s primary showing the congressman ahead of Republican Brendan Doherty. Cicilline’s campaign followed up Thursday with a survey from his longtime pollster The Feldman Group giving him a 10-point edge, with Cicilline at 46%, Doherty at 36%, independent David Vogel at 7% and 11% undecided.

All three of the polls were commissioned by Cicilline or his party and in each case the full results were withheld; Republicans haven’t released any internal polling of their own to counter the Democrats.

Cicilline is also getting a boost from a neutral analyst: his chances of keeping his seat were upgraded Thursday by the Sabato Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, whose director is the prominent political prognosticator Larry Sabato.

The 1st District was moved from “Toss-Up” to “Leans Democratic” after just two months. “While he’s not well-liked because of his time as mayor of Providence, Democrats – especially in much of New England – appear to be strongly coalescing around their president and their party,” writes Kyle Kondik, the center’s U.S. House editor. “That should be enough to get Cicilline across the finish line, so we’re moving him to leans Democratic.”

Voters in Rhode Island’s redrawn 1st Congressional District voted 67% for Barack Obama and only 32% for John McCain in 2008, according to data compiled by Daily Kos Elections. The Cook Political Report rates Cicilline’s seat a toss-up and Stuart Rothenberg rated it “Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat” in May.

Doherty’s campaign has dismissed the various Democratic polls, noting Cicilline still isn’t winning half of voters even in his own surveys. “The fact that Cicilline can’t win 50% of the vote under those circumstances in an overwhelmingly Democratic district shows just how little people trust him,” campaign manager Ian Prior said in a statement Wednesday.

The Cicilline-commissioned Feldman Group poll was conducted Sept. 13 and 15-17 and surveyed 500 voters “who participated in the 2008 or 2010 general elections, or who had registered since that time” and are likely to vote in November. No margin of error was provided. The sample was 47% Democrats, 9% Republicans and 44% unaffiliated; Feldman said it surveyed the head-to-head matchup before providing more information.

• Related: Doherty campaign dismisses 2 Dem polls with Cicilline ahead (Sept. 19)

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