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Poll has Cicilline in Tight Race with Gemma: Experts React

Thursday, May 17, 2012

 

Congressman David Cicilline is facing a tight battle with challenger Anthony Gemma, but a new WPRI Channel 12 poll gives him a slight edge in September’s Democratic primary.

The survey of 302 likely voters has Cicilline just four points ahead of Gemma in a primary matchup—within the 5.7 percent margin of error. Cicilline stands at 40 percent to Gemma’s 36 percent, with 20 percent of respondents undecided.

According to the poll, Cicilline remains popular with women, those aged 18-39, senior citizens and union households. Gemma has strong favorability among those over the age of 40 and with men.

“If only traditional primary voters turnout at the primary, Cicilline now appears to have a good chance of pulling off a win,” said Quest Research pollster Victor Profughi.

Cicilline’s resurgence comes a month after the Congressman apologized for claiming the city of Providence’s finances were in “excellent” condition during his time as Mayor, but the WPRI poll found that the apology did not factor into primary voters’ minds. In fact, only 7.3 percent said they consider Providence’s finances a major issue in the campaign while 45.7 percent said jobs and the economy are the most important topic.

While undecided voters typically end up siding with the challenger, Profughi said the fact that one-in-five voters haven’t made up their minds even after all of the negative publicity Cicilline has received is a positive sign for the Congressman.

Cicilline won a crowded Democratic primary in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote. Gemma came in second at 23 percent.

Gemma announced his candidacy last month and said he plans to focus on Republican challenger Brendan Doherty rather his primary opponent. But Profughi said Gemma needs to do a better job establishing name recognition among primary voters. He said it is clear that voters remain upset with Cicilline, but noted that Gemma will have to actually get out the vote to be successful.

“In the end, one of Gemma’s biggest challenges will be to make the primary interesting enough to lure voters who tend to pass on primaries to get motivated enough by his campaign to turnout,” Profughi said.

Gemma said he was pleased with the results.

“The results of this poll are encouraging and inspiring,” he said. “The incumbent and I are in a statistical dead heat at this stage of the campaign. I lead in most of the important ‘cross tab’ categories. Voters’ perceptions of this election’s most critical issues mirror my own. And the incumbent shows extraordinary vulnerabilities in areas where he should be expected to show strength. These numbers tell a story from which all voters who care about the futures of our state, our nation, and our Democratic Party can draw hope.”

The results are good news for Republican contender Brendan Doherty, according to Channel 12 pollster Joe Fleming, who says the GOP can “sit back” and let the two Democrats pummel each other a primary which comes just two months before the general election.

Doherty is already ahead of both Democrats, according to a February poll.
 

 

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