Taveras Poll Shows Him Leading Raimondo Among Likely Dem Primary Voters

Sep 18, 2013

A poll released by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' campaign organization shows him leading state Treasurer Gina Raimondo 49 percent to 30 percent in a matchup for governor. The survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters says an additional 21 percent of the voters are undecided.

According to the release, the poll was conducted from September 10 to 12 by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group of Washington, D.C. The firm calls the sample "fully representative of a Rhode Island Democratic primary by key geographic and demographic factors" with 60 percent of the respondents Democrats and 40 percent unaffiliated.

The poll, which has a five percentage point margin of error, came after Governor Lincoln Chafee announced his intention not to seek re-election.

In a statement, the finance director for Friends of Angel Taveras, Peter Baptista, says, "The poll results referenced in the memo represent a snapshot in time. We are pleased with what that snapshot shows."
Baptista adds, "A considerable amount of work lies ahead -- in the City of Providence and across our state.  The Mayor is focused on the work at hand and energized about the future. He plans to use this data to inform the final phase of his evaluation regarding the 2014 Governor's race."

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Raimondo's camp.

According to the release distributed by Baptista, the poll asked: "Suppose the candidates in the Democratic primary election for governor are (ROTATE) Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo. Given this choice, do you think you would vote for (ROTATE) Angel Taveras or Gina Raimondo?"

According to the polling memo by Garin Hart Yang:

The breadth of Mayor Taveras’s support in a Democratic primary election is notable; (A) he holds double-digit leads among men AND women, (B) he leads in every region of the state, and (C) while he has a two-to-one advantage over Raimondo among Democrats, he also leads the state treasurer among unaffiliated voters.

Two major factors explain Mayor Taveras’s current lead over the state treasurer.  

First, he is extremely well-regarded on a personal level. Both likely Democratic candidates enjoy high name recognition (Taveras—92% and Raimondo—81%), but as the following graph shows, Mayor Taveras has much higher positives (and significantly lower negatives) on the feelings thermometer question, which measures personal favorability.

Mayor Taveras, not surprisingly, is extremely well-regarded in the City of Providence, where he elicits ratings that are better than five-to-one positive.  But his profile actually is even more favorable outside Providence, where he maintains phenomenal ratings of 67% positive and just 4% negative.

Second, Mayor Taveras has a strong image on the two key dynamics of (A) being in touch with average families, AND (B) being an effective leader.  In addition to his garnering stronger positive feelings scores than the state treasurer does, he holds sizable advantages on the following character and professional traits:

Taveras and Raimondo have steadily polled, in Brown University surveys, as the two best-liked elected officials in Rhode Island. An earlier Public Policy Polling survey showed Raimondo as the front runner among prospective candidates for governor.

The Taveras poll shows the Providence mayor faring better than Raimondo on such questions as who better looks out for working-class families (46 percent/12 percent) and "bringing groups of people together around common sense solutions" (43 percent/17 percent).

Raimondo and Taveras are both expected to announce their Democratic campaigns for governor in the near future. The polling memo prepared on behalf of Taveras closes with this observation:

We are pleased with where Mayor Taveras would begin a gubernatorial campaign, especially with regard to his strong personal image and his credibility as an effective leader among a broad cross section of Rhode Island Democrats.  We understand that a lot can happen in the year leading up to the September 9, 2014 primary (i.e., Governor Chafee’s recent and surprising decision), and that the Taveras campaign has a considerable amount of work ahead to solidify his initial advantage.  However, we are confident that with an aggressive, resourced, and tightly managed campaign operation, Angel Taveras stands an excellent chance of prevailing in the Democratic primary

This post has been updated.