PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – How big is Allan Fung’s lead in the Republican primary for governor?
It depends which candidate’s poll you believe.
Last month, Fung’s campaign announced it had commissioned a survey from his pollster, Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies. In a memo released by the campaign, Ulm said the poll of 400 likely GOP primary voters showed Fung at 62%, Morgan at 22% and Giovanni Feroce at 4%, with 10% undecided.
The Fung campaign declined to allow reporters to review the full poll, but insisted the results were obtained without first giving voters positive or negative messages about any candidates. Ulm said the poll was done July 11 to 14, and relied on live interviews conducted by landline and cell phone.
On Wednesday, Morgan countered by sharing the results of her own poll – and in her case, she allowed reporters to see the whole thing.
The Morgan campaign’s poll put Fung at 44% and Morgan at 33%, with 18% of voters undecided. (It did not include Feroce.) The survey was conducted by Adam Geller of National Research Inc. on July 23 and 24, about 10 days after Fung’s, and polled 400 likely GOP primary voters by landline and cell phone.
Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming, a longtime Rhode Island pollster, said all surveys commissioned by candidates should be viewed cautiously since they have a vested interest in painting the results in a positive light.
In both cases, he said, “it’s not an independent poll.”
Taking accurate surveys of GOP primaries in Rhode Island is also “very difficult,” Fleming said, because the state has so few registered Republicans and so many unaffiliated voters who can vote in either primary.
“You don’t know what the primary is going to look like,” he said. “It could be a 15,000-vote turnout; four years ago it was about 35,000 votes. We’ve seen up to 60,000 votes in a Republican primary. Getting the right mixture in the survey is very difficult. It’s a fluid thing.”
Whatever the current state of the GOP race is, Fleming said the campaign is likely to heat up in the coming weeks as the Sept. 12 primary approaches.
“Voters are not focused on the governor’s race that much yet,” he said. “Neither side has done a lot of media. I assume both Republicans are doing a bit of direct mail targeting Republican voters.”