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Exclusive Poll: Where Does Congressman Cicilline Stand With RI Voters?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


David Cicilline has faced harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle since taking office in January, but the first-term Democratic Congressman still holds a slight lead over Republican candidates Brendan Doherty and John Loughlin, a GoLocalProv has found.

As it stands today, Cicilline leads Doherty 43% to 39% and Loughlin 45% to 37% with less than 20% undecided in each potential race. The poll also found that Cicilline’s potential Democratic challenger, Anthony Gemma, trails Doherty 31% to 29% and leads Loughlin 33% to 30%. A primary matchup between Cicilline and Gemma was not polled.

The poll, which was conducted by Starr Opinion Research between September 8 and 13, asked 206 registered voters in 1st Congressional District for their opinions on Cicilline and his potential opponents. The margin of error for the overall sample was 6.8 percentage points.

Cicilline: Highest Unfavorable Number In State

Despite maintaining a small lead, Cicilline has the highest unfavorable number of any elected official in Rhode Island with 51%. By comparison, Doherty, Loughlin and Gemma have unfavorables under 12%, but registered voters are significantly less familiar with the three challengers.

According to Josh Starr, who conducted the poll, the Congressman is facing a tough re-election.

“Currently, more voters in the 1st District (51%) have an unfavorable view of David Cicilline than a favorable view (42%),” Starr said. “While campaigns can influence these opinions, Cicilline’s campaign faces a challenge in that he has a diminished core base of voters in his district – voters are twice as likely to be very unfavorable (31%) to him than very favorable (14%).

Quest Research pollster Victor Profughi said he was more surprised with the lack of name recognition with the Republican challengers than Cicilline’s numbers.

“Although Cicilline's recognition is high, so are his unfavorable. Nothing especially surprising here,” Profughi said. “More surprising is the very low recognition factor for both Doherty and Loughlin. Equally significant is the fact that Congressman Cicilline may be out front of both of his Republican opponents, although with the margin of error Doherty may tie him.”

Profughi said noted that both Democrats have similar numbers when up against the Republicans.

“Interestingly, there is no statistical difference between how Cicilline and Gemma would do against the prospective Republicans,” he said.

Schiller: Cicilline Has Work To Do

The voter dissatisfaction with Ciciiline is likely due in part to his performance as Mayor of Providence over eight years. Earlier this year, current Mayor Angel Taveras called the city’s financial situation a “category five hurricane.” Brown Political Science Professor Wendy Schiller said the poll offers mixed results for the Congressman.

“This poll clearly shows Congressman Cicilline has work to do to reconnect with the voters in his district and shore up support,” Schiiler said. “There is some good news here in that he leads Doherty slightly, and has a more convincing lead on Loughlin who ran against him in 2010. What is not clear from this poll is whether this disapproval is entirely personal, or a combination of lingering doubts about his performance as mayor and disapproval of Congress more generally.”

Schiller said a key will be whether voters focus on Cicilline’s tenure as Mayor or his current position in Washington.

“One would expect that Cicilline's approval rating as a member of Congress would improve over time as voters make the transition in how they view him but if Congress continues to disappoint voters on the economy and job opportunities, it will be harder than normal for him to take advantage of being the incumbent,” Schiller said. “The catch-22 for his Republican opponents is that in order to beat Cicilline in 2012, they have to make the point that Congress is not working well, and since the Republicans control the House of Representatives, that means attacking their own party's leadership. “

Campaign Reactions

Despite the high unfavorable number, state Democratic Party Chairman Ed Pacheco said the poll reflects the work Cicilline is doing in Washington.

“These numbers certainly reflect recognition for the work David was elected to do on behalf of the constituents of the First Congressional District,” Pacheco said. “And while the poll numbers are welcome, David's priority has and continues to be the economy and putting Rhode Islanders back to work.”

Dante Bellini, spokesman for the Doherty campaign, called the poll numbers “encouraging.”

“While the results of this poll are certainly encouraging to us, we don’t forget that there is a long way to go in this campaign,” he said. “We don’t take anything for granted. Our focus continues straight-forward. We’re simply going to work hard every single day to get our message out and earn the trust, confidence and support of the voters in Congressional District 1.”

Loughlin campaign spokesman Mike Napolitano said the numbers send a significant message considering his candidate is currently out of the country serving in Iraq.

“We have a two-to-one favorable to unfavorable ratio,” Napolitano said. “What this shows is we have a lot of room to grow our base. We’re breaking new ground here. John is not in the country and within the margin of error, this is a dead heat. What does that say?”

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Buc Kner

calling mr drago..drago? drago? hello???

David Bibeault

I'd rate Cicillini somewhere BELOW used car salesman and child molesters.

Lis Velva

Doherty feeling like Tampa Bay, Loughlin feeling like the Red Sox's

Edward Smith

All this poll confirms is that, despite all the naysayers and haters, Cicilline still has a very good chance of winning re-election next year.

Gian DiManna

I think the man is a disgusting embarrassment within the political and citizenship arena. He has proven that lying, cheating and extortion get rewarded. From taxes, to his brother, campaigning while on the providence payroll - he has totally proven and has become the epitome of what 'not' to be in politics....I can't believe the antics he has gotten away with, while innocent hard working people work just to make ends meet to help feed his wallet. His disregard for being open and candid has only shortened his tie with people who have figured out the real truth about him....

Lance Chappell

If the people in the 1st district are that far gone, then they are lost. I personally don't believe this poll and perhaps maybe it needs to be checked to see if it is biased.

With the track record of this bird, it makes no sense how his numbers could be this high. He has has the lowest approval rating in Congress and perhaps Oboma may actually being heading there himself.

David Bibeault

"Cicilline still has a very good chance of winning re-election next year" - proof of the intelligence level of RI voters. Keep pullin' that "D" level you dummies!

john paycheck

they voted for feed st grmaina nd patches kenendy for decades..

remember, most of the voters in that district could care less about the country and care more about what they can bleed from it.

Brian Lee

i love the idiots on this site. the last thing we need is more right wingers like Paul Ryan in Congress, dismantling the entire government to satisfy their insane base.

face it, David is doing a great job in Congress. quit living in the past!

Todd B

If you're Doherty, you have to be a little concerned. Doherty has been campaigning for months while Loughlin has been out of the country serving in Iraq, yet Doherty isn't doing much better in head-to-heads against Cicilline than Loughlin. And although he has been out of the country, Loughlin appears to be consolidating the GOP base rather than losing it. Very strange.

Nick Patriarca

cicilline is an embarassment . providence is still reeling from his machinations . no accountability for his lies and deceit ..

Lance Perdue

the fact is we need David in Washington fighting for us. Keep up the great work David!

Charles Drago

Number of jobs in RI created by David Cicilline -- ZERO

Number of infrastructure projects brought to RI by David Cicilline -- ZERO

Number of armed forces members brought home early from Afghanistan by David Cicilline -- ZERO

Number of dollars brought to RI education by David Cicilline -- ZERO

Keep up the great work, David!

You miserable, lying failure!

Jonathan Flynn

Drago speaks!

anthony sionni

join my facebook group, dump cicilline 2012, put it in search, if the link dont show up here.http://www.facebook.com/groups/dumpcicilline2012/.

Jonathan Flynn

"if the link dont show up" Well said.

Lance Perdue

haha what do you expect from that clown?

Keith Fernandes

Who does these polls? 42% gave Cicilline a favorable rating? ';m having a hard time finding anyone esp in Providence that is going to vote for him. Cept the career politicians...

anthony sionni

ok flynn thanks for correcting my grammar lol I will remember how important it is here on the comment section the next time lol

Jonathan Flynn

There was a punctuation error, too. Just so you know.

Michael Trenn

Specifically what has Cicilline done so far in Congress? A "Buy American" amendment? Really? What he has done so far is avoid all questions about his main qualification; being Mayor of Providence. Cicilline is a fast talker. The faster he talks, the more he is lying. Nice to see my HS classmate, Dave, weighing in. Finally,Good job cleaning up your act, Pottymouth.

Jonathan Flynn

Haven't heard a response to Factymouth, re: Federal judges and generic drugs. Maybe you meant generic judges? Or Federal drugs? Gut check.

Jonathan Flynn

Michael Trenn speechless. Priceless.

guy smily


The reason why Cicilline still has supporters is because there is a flaw in the polling process. The polls respondents are mostly all land lines. Who is home to answer those calls, the unemployed, and illegals who are now getting in-state tuition rates and drivers licenses. They love Cicilline and Chafee and any liberal politician who will give them what they want.

bobbi houllahan

Cicilline should fall on his sword and bow out of the all too soon next election. Whatever good he may be doing in Washington is overshadowed by the the unfortunate financial mess left behind in Providence.

For the good of the country, and even the world, RI must NOT send a Republican to DC next year. The RI Democratic party MUST come up with an inspiring electable candidate ASAP.

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