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Chafee and Caprio Gov Contest Still Tight

September 29, 2010

Democrat Frank Caprio and independent Lincoln Chafee are still locked in a too-close-too-call contest for Rhode Island governor, according to the latest Channel 12 public opinion survey.

The poll, done by veteran Rhode Island pollster Joe Fleming puts Caprio at 33 percent, Chafee at 30 percent, Republican John Robitaille at 19 percent and other candidates trailing far behind.

Fifteen percent are undecided and it is this group of voters who are crucial over the next five weeks.

So the governor’s race is still wide open with five weeks to go. Caprio was slightly ahead of Chafee with most poll subgroups, according to Channel 12.

Fleming is a well-respected pollster. The survey was based on 500 likely voters and carries a margin of error of   4.38 percent.

What is becoming clear is that both leading campaigns have hurdles to overcome. Caprio has to cut into Chafee’s contention that the general treasurer, a veteran General Assembly member, is too tied to the old Rhode Island handicaps of cronyism and insider dealing.

Caprio has also had problems defining his campaign, gets mired in vague promises without giving specifics and appears to too many voters to be trying to be all things to all people.

Chafee still has not been able to connect his call for a one-percent tax on items not currently covered by the sales tax with property tax relief. Chafee has obviously not been able to convince undecided voters that they can trust him to hold the line on property taxes and use any money collected by a new tax to give back to the communities.

Is Chafee too much the like the old New England moderate Republicans in an era when that group has almost faded to nearly black? The other problem for Chafee is one that confronts all independents – he does not have a party apparatus to count on for GOTV, which in this day and age is crucial.  Caprio does have such a strong ground operation.

Robitaille is still in this thing because of Rhode Island’s system of a straight plurality winner. Under the state Constitution, the next governor is the candidate who gets the most votes, so the state could end up with a 35 or 36 percent governor., or even a 30 percent governor.  Robitaille is the candidate of the anti-government Tea Party supporters and the social conservatives. He is the only major candidate who is against both legal abortion and gay marriage. He is the vessel of the angry and disenchanted who don’t like anything much about the way the state is being run.

Besides swaying the undecided, one unknown factor is how large a slice of the vote Moderate Party candidate Ken Block can hold. Block is showing up at around five percent, but as the days dwindle toward Nov. 2, do his voters decide they want their votes to count for a winner and migrate to either Caprio or Chafee?

On the major issue of who Rhode Islanders think can get the economy moving and provide strong, honest government, the Caprio-Chafee verdict is still out for many voters.

The most remarkable aspect of all this is that after a spring and summer of campaigning, Chafee and Caprio stand about where they were when this race started many months ago.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ron Behagen permalink
    September 30, 2010 5:07 pm

    results a bit different from Dr Vic at RIC
    like 20 bits
    Problem w/Vic is that he’s compromised and so are his #’s

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