Poll Shows Cicilline Under 50 -- Among Dems
Embattled Rep. David Cicilline can't even break 50 percent in his competitive Democratic primary in Rhode Island's First District, according to a new poll released late Monday night.
The poll, conducted for WPRI-TV in Providence, shows Cicilline leading businessman Anthony Gemma, whom he defeated in the Democratic primary in 2010, 43 percent to 31 percent. Four percent of likely primary voters said they would vote for electrical engineer Chris Young, and 17 percent are still undecided in the Sept. 11 primary.
Democratic primary voters offered a mixed verdict on Cicilline's performance in his first term in the House. Just 7 percent said he was doing an "excellent job," while 33 percent rate his performance as "good." Another 29 percent chose "fair," but 23 percent said he was doing a "poor" job.
Gemma is still unknown, with nearly half of poll respondents saying they don't know enough about him to have an opinion. That he's competitive with Cicilline, the former Providence mayor who's been tarred by a budget crisis, demonstrates why Republicans now see the urban New England seat as one of their top pickup opportunities.
Even if he makes it through the primary, Cicilline will face a difficult reelection bid. He will face former State Police superintendent Brendan Doherty, a touted GOP recruit, in the general election. Though the poll surveyed only likely Democratic primary voters, it did show that Cicilline may have trouble uniting members of his party after the primary: More than half of Gemma supporters said they would vote for Doherty in the general election.
The poll was conducted Aug. 19-22 by Fleming & Associates of Cumberland, R.I., surveying 301 likely primary voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 5.7 percentage points.
Cicilline has focused on themes of his 2010 campaign in recent weeks, decrying resources spent on foreign wars and advocating for more infrastructure spending at home. Gemma, meanwhile, has taken a more sensationalistic tack: Last week at a press conference, the challenger unveiled what he called evidence of voter fraud that implicated Cicilline. Cicilline has vehemently denied the charges and the state's Democratic establishment has rallied around him.
Most of the poll's interviews were conducted prior to Gemma's press conference.
Scott Bland contributed to this report.