GOP Poll Shows Competitive Race in Rhode Island

Posted October 22, 2010 at 3:12pm

Republicans are growing increasingly optimistic that they may be able to steal the Rhode Island seat long held by retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D).

The National Republican Congressional Committee released internal polling Friday afternoon that showed the race between Providence Mayor David Cicilline (D) and state Rep. John Loughlin (R) tied.

Many people thought Cicilline would have a relatively easy victory in the heavily Democratic Ocean State. But the Public Opinion Strategies poll found the mayor has high negatives and earns just 41 percent support among 300 likely voters surveyed Wednesday and Thursday. Loughlin also earned 41 percent in the poll, which had a 5.6-point margin of error.

Among those most likely to vote, Loughlin was ahead 45 percent to 41 percent, according to pollster Gene Ulm, who said the margin of error for that group exceeds 6 points.

“The message is starting to take hold,” an excited Loughlin said in an interview. “We’re seeing the undecided voters starting to break in our direction.”

Loughlin has trailed his Democratic opponent by double digits in every public poll released to date.

“It’s impossible to take these numbers seriously,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Shripal Shah said. “Voters know that they can’t afford John Loughlin’s anti-Social Security agenda, and that’s a message that will be delivered loud and clear in 11 days; he’s wrong on the issues and wrong for Rhode Island.”

Loughlin, a state Representative with a military background, has struggled to raise money for much of the cycle, but he went up with his first television ads this week and will be up through Election Day.

The Rhode Island contest has yet to draw any outside spending from conservative groups. If outside groups believe this race has really tightened, however, that could change.