RWU-WPRI Poll Shows R.I. Governor's Race Still a 'Toss Up'

Voters are still largely undecided in Democratic pick for Governor, while Magazine holds large lead in 2nd Congressional District race

Jill Rodrigues '05
RWU-WPRI 12 partnership

Updated Aug. 17 at 5 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – With the Rhode Island primary election only four weeks away, nearly as many Democratic primary voters are undecided in their choice for Governor compared to their support of the top candidates, according to a new Roger Williams University/WPRI 12 poll released on Tuesday, August 16.

R.I. Gov. Daniel J. McKee is leading among Democratic primary voters with 28 percent of the vote, with R.I. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea close behind with 25 percent. However, 21 percent of those polled remain undecided for the Democratic candidate for Governor. Of the other candidates, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes received 14 percent, former secretary of state Matt Brown received 8 percent, and Luis Daniel Muñoz, a member of the state Equity Council, received 1 percent of the vote.

The Fleming & Associates polling firm conducted the survey of 400 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters statewide from August 7-10. The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.9 percentage points.

“The race is a toss up at this point,” said veteran pollster Joseph Fleming. “With 21 percent still undecided and 3 percent who refused to answer, that’s almost completely undecided and this race can change over the next four weeks.”

While McKee and Gorbea have gained some support since the previous RWU-WPRI poll conducted in May, Foulkes has increased her support by 8 percent. “Foulkes is still within striking distance. Whether voter support will continue to increase will depend on whether she can get her message out there,” Fleming said.

When asked if they are certain with their vote for governor or if there is a chance they could change their mind and vote for someone else, 42 percent of those polled say there is a good chance they could change their mind.

“This means it’s a very fluid race. Primary voters may be supporting one candidate over the other, but they are not rock solid behind any one of the candidates,” Fleming said. “Forty-two percent of voters are open to change if they hear the right message. With a few weeks to go, whoever can grab some momentum and get out there could sway the voters.”

Among the top three Democratic candidates for governor, those polled say they have a 53 percent favorable impression of McKee, 46 percent of Gorbea and 33 percent of Foulkes.

“Over the summer, people have been more concerned with the high price of gas and other expenses. Voters are just now starting to focus on the race for governor. With candidates’ campaign advertising expected to ramp up – and I suspect outside groups will get positive or negative messages out about the candidates – I think the race is really going to start heating up now,” Fleming said.

R.I.Treasurer Seth Magaziner continues to hold a large lead as the Democratic nominee for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, according to a Roger Williams University/WPRI 12 poll released on Tuesday, May 17.

Among a field of six candidates for the seat, Magaziner received 37 percent of support from Democratic primary voters who were polled. However, another 37 percent polled said they weren’t sure yet for whom they would vote.

Of the other candidates, 3 percent supported Omar Bah, 1 percent supported Spencer Dickinson, 4 percent supported Joy Fox, 8 percent supported Sarah Morgenthau, and 8 percent supported David Segal.

The Fleming & Associates polling firm conducted the survey of 250 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters residing in the 2nd Congressional District from August 7-10. The survey of the Congressional race has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 6.2 percentage points.

“Magaziner had the lead very strongly last time we polled in May – and still has it. He’s the best known of the candidates and while other candidates have done some advertising, he stands out with having done the most,” said Fleming.

But with a sizable number still undecided in the Democratic primary, Fleming said the pick for the 2nd Congressional District could hinge on voter turnout.

“Right now, Magaziner is in a strong position. When we asked those polled about their likelihood of voting in the primary, it showed that Magaziner is getting 44 percent of that vote,” Fleming said.

R.I. Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos is pulling ahead of the other Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, according to a new Roger Williams University/WPRI 12 poll released on Tuesday, August 16.

Twenty-three percent support Matos, 14 percent support State Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, and 9 percent support State Sen. Cynthia Mendes, while another 51 percent of Democratic primary voters remain undecided in the race for lieutenant governor.

Such a high number of undecided voters isn’t surprising in this race, according to Fleming. “It’s a race that isn’t getting a large amount of press and the candidates haven’t done a lot of advertising.”


When asked about public funding for a proposed soccer stadium in Pawtucket, more votes opposed giving $60 million to the developers than supported it.

Tidewater Landing, the developers of the proposed soccer stadium that would replace the former McCoy Stadium, are seeking public funding to complete their project. Of those polled, 44 percent opposed public funding, while 35 percent favored it and 19 percent were not sure if they supported it.

The polling showed that males were divided on their opinion with equal support and opposition (both at 41 percent) and females were 46 percent in opposition. Forty-two percent of Democrats opposed public funding for the project, while 48 percent of Independents opposed it.

“I expect this is going to become an issue with the candidates for office going into the next few weeks,” said Fleming.

How much influence the candidates’ positions have among voters “will depend on how they play it. If they make this like another 38 Studios” – referencing the fallout from the state loaning $75 million to a failed video-game venture – “this could get interesting,” Fleming said.


The Democratic nomination for General Treasurer is wide open at this point. Former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa received 18 percent and former R.I. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor received 17 percent of support, while 61 percent of Democratic primary voters remain undecided in the race for Rhode Island Treasurer.

“These two candidates aren’t well known by the average Rhode Islander, and this is a race that doesn’t receive a lot of press,” Fleming said. “Neither candidate has spent much on paid media. I’m assuming they will ramp up in the weeks before the election but waiting until then, they might get drowned out by campaigning from the bigger races.”

Full results are available here: