Buoyed by support from independents, Republican Allan Fung leads Democrat Seth Magaziner in a Rhode Island congressional district that has historically voted Democratic, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of Rhode Island likely midterm voters.
Fung (45%) leads Magaziner (37%), and William Gilbert (5%), an Independent-Moderate Party candidate, with 13% undecided.
The open seat, formerly held by retiring Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin, could be a unique battleground in a state which historically almost always votes Democratic for federal and state offices.
“Allan Fung has a lead in this race due to overwhelming support from men, independents, and older voters,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “He is competitive in the other demographics that he is losing, and the net effect is an eight point lead overall.”
Fung leads 55%-30% among men, 57%-21% among independents, and 50%-36% among those voters ages 65 and up. Magaziner leads 44%-35% among women.
In a June Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll, Fung led in a two-way ballot test 45%-39% with 17% undecided
Poll results underscore the importance of independent voters
Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Dan McKee (46%) leads Republican Ashley Kalus (36%), independents Zachary Hurwitz (2%) and Paul Rianna (1%), with Libertarian Elijah Gizzarelli also receiving 1%. There are 14% undecided for governor.
McKee leads Kalus 55%-26% among women, as well as every age and race category. But Kalus leads among men (47%-38%) and independents (50%-25%), and only trails McKee by one point (42%-41%) in the hotly contested Second Congressional District.
“The importance of independents in Rhode Island can’t be overestimated,” said Paleologos. “Overall, both Democrat McKee and Republican Fung are winning with almost identical margins because they are each winning independents big.”
McKee was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and ascended to the governorship last year when Governor Gina Raimondo resigned to become President Joe Biden’s secretary of commerce.
McKee leads among five of the six issues most important to Rhode Island voters, including abortion (70%-13%), healthcare (67%-9%), housing (66%-21%), gun safety (63%-23%), and education (47%-29%).
However, Kalus leads with voters on the No. 1 issue in Rhode Island today—the cost of living—where she tops McKee 56%-30%.
Despite McKee’s lead thus far, his job approval is under 50%, a key benchmark for incumbent politicians. According to the poll, McKee has a 46%-38% approve/disapprove rating among those polled, with 15% of voters saying they are unable to rate his performance. Among independents—the largest block of voters in Rhode Island—McKee’s job approval is lagging even further with only 29% of respondents approving and 49% disapproving.
The Suffolk University statewide survey of 800 likely midterm voters was conducted Oct.1–4 and is based on live interviews of adults 18 years of age or older. Each area’s quota and demographic information—including race, education, and age—was determined from current voter registration data, 2020 census data, the 2021 American Community Survey, midterm exit polling data, and affiliated sources. Samples of both standard landline and cell phones were called using a probability-proportionate-to-size method, which means that the phone numbers assigned to each area were proportional to the number of voters in each area. All respondents indicated that they were residents of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island cities and towns were grouped into the two congressional districts. The margin of error for the 800 likely midterm voters is +/- 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error for the 422 likely midterm election voters in CD2 is +/- 4.8 percentage points. All surveys may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].