PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Half of Democratic primary voters are undecided in the race to replace Congressman Jim Langevin, and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner is the only candidate who has substantial support so far, an exclusive 12 News/Roger Williams University poll released Tuesday shows.
The survey of 250 likely Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District finds Magaziner at 33%, but even more voters — 50% — remain undecided with four months to go before the Sept. 13 primary.
Three other Democratic candidates — former state Rep. David Segal, former Langevin aide Joy Fox, and former Biden administration official Sarah Morgenthau — are closely clustered together with 4% to 5% each. Providence firefighter Cameron Moquin has 1%, and Refugee Dream Center founder Omar Bah has 0.4%.
“The big winner in CD2 is — undecided,” said 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll.
The cellphone and landline interview poll was conducted Monday, May 9, through Thursday, May 12, by Fleming & Associates of Cumberland, R.I. The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 6.2 percentage points. Fleming has been conducting polls for WPRI 12 since 1984.
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“Keep in mind, Seth Magaziner has been elected statewide twice,” Fleming said. “He’s more of a name that is known around the state. The other five candidates that are running are not known, they don’t have high name recognition, so I’m not surprised with these results at this point.”
Magaziner has by far the most money among the six Democrats, sitting on $1.4 million as of March 31. Morgenthau, Segal and Fox were the only other candidates that had raised six-figures, and last week Morgenthau became the first of the Democrats to start airing campaign ads on TV.
“I expect the other candidates to start going up with their buys shortly, and that could change these numbers greatly,” Fleming said. “With half the voters undecided, there is still a lot of movement that can happen in this race.”
The poll is decent news for Magaziner, Fleming said, showing the two-term treasurer starts the primary race with about one in three voters behind him.
“The question is, how solid is that third?” Fleming said. “Are some of those people voting because he is the name I know, or are they rock solid and they aren’t going to change from voting for him? There could be some soft support there, which I am sure his opponents are hoping.”
Among subgroups of voters, Magaziner is running particularly strong among older primary voters, with 47% support among those ages 60 and up. His support is relatively weak with self-identified independent voters, 28% of whom are supporting him but 59% of whom are undecided.
The nominee chosen in the Democratic primary will go on to face the winner of the Republican 2nd District primary between former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former state Rep. Bob Lancia. State and national GOP leaders are hoping they can make the November election competitive due to voter frustration about issues such as inflation.
In a news release issued after the poll results came out, Magaziner’s campaign trumpeted his 6-to-1 advantage over his nearest rival, Segal.
“Treasurer Magaziner’s wide lead shows that our message of fighting for middle-class families by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, making child care more affordable, and protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is resonating with voters across the district,” said Magaziner spokesperson Patricia Socarras. “Magaziner is in a strong position to win the Democratic nomination and take on Republican Allan Fung in November.”
Appearing live on 12 News at 4 just before the poll came out, Segal sought to tamp down expectations.
“I guessed you might ask me this one,” Segal told 12 News anchor Kim Kalunian, laughing.
“I think we’re going to see that I have some room to grow,” he said. “I’m also confident that support for me and this effort is going to grow as people hear more about my message, about my years of work on these important issues, about support from folks like Elizabeth Warren and a variety of local and national organizations that stand for building a fair economy.”
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook