Sanders Win in RI is Another Blow to Governor Raimondo

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


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Sec. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Gina Raimondo and Sen. Jack Reed (L to R) PHOTO: Raimondo

General Electric moved to Boston, Rhode Island’s tourism campaign featured Iceland, and Bernie Sanders just won Rhode Island — it has not been a good year for Gina Raimondo.

Raimondo hosted Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton twice in the past ten days in Rhode Island, but Rhode Islanders rejected the familiar and often popular Clinton message.

“Sanders victory for Rhode Island is confirmation of an anti-establishment sentiment in Rhode Island, and that's not particularly good news for Governor Raimondo.  Any public official who closely aligns with a candidate who loses the state in the primary creates some reason for consternation,” said Professor Val Endress of Rhode Island College, in an interview with GoLocalProv Tuesday night.

How Big a Blow for Raimondo — This Was Clinton Country 

Historically, all Bill or Hillary had to do was stop by Rhode Island and then collect the delegates. In 2008, a year in which Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for President, Hillary Clinton soundly defeated Obama in Rhode Island. Clinton received 108,949 votes to Obama’s 75,316. Clinton won 59 percent of the vote to Obama’s 41 percent.

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Gov. Gina Raimondo, Speaker Nick Mattiello and President Bill Clinton (L to R) PHOTO: Raimondo

Eight years later, Clinton’s fate is reversed in Rhode Island and she received roughly half the number of votes -- and Raimondo’s support proved to be a negative. According to a poll released by Brown University on Sunday, only 6.5 percent of Rhode Islanders rated Raimondo's job performance as “excellent” and while her overall rating in not the worst in modern Rhode Island history, it may be the lowest for a Governor in the past 20 years in an improving economy.

Raimondo's Vice President Chances Dashed

For Raimondo, who was flagged as a potential Vice Presidential possibility for Clinton just five days ago, the dream is now dashed. The Atlantic’s David Graham wrote:

"To be fair, this isn’t the first time Clinton or her aides have mentioned the idea. In January, she told Rachel Maddow she would “absolutely not” rule out a female running mate. Some of the names that are circulating: Senators Elizabeth Warren (of course), Claire McCaskill, Jean Shaheen, and Amy Klobuchar; and Governors Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire (an unlikely choice, as she’s running for U.S. Senate) and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.”

“This is certainly not a fatal blow, but this combined with the fact that she has yet to score a big win in economic development for Rhode Island, she had to assume some responsibility for the tourism campaign missteps, and there's some reason to believe that she's losing ground with her favorability ratings, means that she needs to work diligently to reaffirm and regain the public's support,” said Endress.


Related Slideshow: 5 Shocking Facts from the 2016 RI Presidential Primary

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The Outcome Should Scare All Incumbents

If you add the votes of the former socialist Mayor of Burlington, Vermont with those of the former reality TV star together, they garnered over 60.5% of the vote in the Rhode Island Presidential Primary.

In contrast, the combined vote of the former U.S. Secretary of State, a sitting United States Senator and a Governor of one of the most important political states combined for just 39.5%.

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Feel the Bern

Every Bernie Sanders delegate candidate received more votes than the top delegate running for Clinton. Think about that.

Most of the delegates for Sanders are political newcomers. Many of Clinton’s delegate candidates were party leaders or from top political families.

Clinton’s delegates included Gubernatorial candidates Clay Pell and Myrth York, Elorza’s top staffer Brett Smiley and members of power Democratic families like Paolino and Weiner.

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Turnout for Democrats Way Down from 2008

In the historic primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, more than 189,000 voted in the Democratic primary. 

In 2016, 119,000 Rhode Islanders voted in the Democratic primary — a decrease of 37 percent in total voters.

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GOP Turnout Increased - Is Rhode Island Getting More Conservative?

In 2008, the GOP Presidential primary turnout in Rhode Island was 26,996. Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain won 64 percent of the vote in Rhode Island.

In 2008, seven times as many Rhode Islanders voted in the Democratic primary as voted in the GOP primary.

2016 Flip

Trump helped to drive 61,394 total votes to the GOP primary in 2016 — a 127 percent increase in voter turnout. 

The ratio dropped to just two-to-one voting in the number of voters in the Democratic primary versus the GOP.

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"Throw Them All Out"

The Brown University poll released Sunday found that the majority of Rhode Islanders believe the state is on the "wrong track."

Nearly every Democratic elected official in Rhode Island publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton including, Governor Raimondo, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. 

The only group that endorsed Bernie Sanders was small and included State Senator James Sheehan and State Rep Raymond Hull to name two.

On the GOP side, many of the traditional party leaders supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, but as they fell from the race they shifted to Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.  

The political power structure in Rhode Island was soundly defeated on Tuesday. 


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