PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new poll has found Republican Allan Fung with a lead outside the margin of error for the first time in the race for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, buoying GOP hopes of picking up a blue-state seat next month.
The new Boston Globe/Suffolk University survey of 422 likely voters in the 2nd District finds Fung at 45% and Democrat Seth Magaziner at 37%, with 13% undecided and 5% backing independent William Gilbert, who will appear on the ballot as “Moderate.”
The 8-point lead for Fung in the new survey confirms the findings of last week’s 12 News/Roger Williams University poll, which showed Fung leading Magaziner by a similar margin of 6 points. The results have increased the alarm among Democrats that they could lose a seat they’ve held for years, due to the retirement of 11-term incumbent Jim Langevin.
“This is rare,” said 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming. “I think this would mean Republicans nationally are going to throw even more money into this race.”
“Seth Magaziner has to really close that gap over the next 30 days,” Fleming said. “He has to get the Democrats to come home, and build a base among independents.”
Fung and Magaziner are set to face off in their first TV debate live on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. on WPRI 12. The debate will take place at the Providence Performing Arts Center. A limited number of seats at PPAC will be available to members of the public, and tickets can be reserved online.
The cellphone and landline interview survey was conducted Oct. 1 to Oct. 4. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the full statewide sample of 800 voters, but 4.8 points for the subsample of 422 voters in the 2nd District.
In the race for governor, the Globe/Suffolk poll shows Democratic incumbent Dan McKee with a 10-point lead over his Republican challenger Ashley Kalus. McKee is at 46% and Kalus is at 36%, with 14% of voters undecided. (McKee led Kalus by 13 points in the 12 News/RWU poll.)
The fresh findings come hours before McKee and Kalus are scheduled to meet for their first TV debate Tuesday night live at 7 p.m. on WPRI 12.
“He is in a good position,” Fleming said. “McKee has to really just hold his own in the debates and not look bad.”
The poll provides further evidence of Rhode Island Democrats’ weakness in the 2nd District, which covers the western side of the state. McKee and Kalus are effectively tied in the 2nd District, 42% to 41%; McKee leads by 20 points in the communities of the eastern 1st District.
The Globe/Suffolk poll pegs McKee’s statewide job approval rating at 46%, while 38% of voters disapprove. He’s doing notably better than fellow Democrat President Joe Biden, whose approval rating among Rhode Islanders is just 40% in the poll, with 52% disapproving.
At the same time, the survey finds only 35% of voters feel Rhode Island is headed in the right direction, a nearly identical finding to what was reported in last week’s 12 News/RWU poll. The same similarity was seen when voters were asked their top issue in the election, with the cost of living named by 44% and abortion rights named by 15%.
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