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Reading the tea leaves on Gemma’s challenge to Cicilline

May 22, 2012

Anthony Gemma is pumped up about some positive press for his campaign in two Washington, DC, political publications. 

His congressional campaign released a statement today trumpeting the news. The same information went out yesterday through non-political PR streams like this one:

 Two widely respected Washington, D.C.-based political news e-publications — Roll Call and The Hill– independently have posted cogent analyses of the race between Anthony Gemma and incumbent David Cicilline for the Democratic nomination for Congress from Rhode Island’s 1st District. Their conclusions are identical:

  –  David Cicilline likely would lose in the General Election to Republican Brendan Doherty.
  –  Anthony Gemma likely would defeat Doherty and hold the Rhode Island 1st District for the Democratic Party.

Roll Call justifiably notes how Cicilline is “one of the most endangered House Democrats this cycle,” and “might not even make it out of the September primary,” based on last week’s Channel 12 poll. It goes on to say that if Cicilline loses in September. “Democrats would likely be favored to hold the seat.” The story in The Hill carries a similar message.

The problem with this is how outcomes in September are being based on a poll in May.

That’s like assuming some guy curently batting .340 is going to maintain his excellence through a grueling a 162-game baseball schedule.

Speaking last week on WPRI/WNAC-TV’s Newsmakers, Cook Report analyst Jennifer Duffy called Cicilline the most vulnerable Democrat House incumbent not facing a challenge from a federal incumbent. But she also said a generic candidate would have fared just as well as Gemma in Channel 12′s recent poll.  

Meanwhile, writing at GoLocal, Rob Horowitz is skeptical that Gemma will snag the batting crown:

Cicilline has survived an extended period of saturation-level critical coverage and now stands to benefit as the campaign debate widens to include national issues where Cicilline is more in tune with primary voters than the more conservative Gemma and more aligned with general election voters than the Republican candidate Brendan Doherty. Cicilline’s Providence problems are not going away, but they are unlikely to dominate the debate going forward as they have the last eighteen months.

Meanwhile, the finding that 45 percent of respondents don’t know Gemma shows how he faces both an opportunity and a challenge.

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