PROVIDENCE – Republican Allan Fung leads each of his potential Democratic rivals in the race for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, a new Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll found, giving the GOP its best chance to flip a seat that has been held by Democrats since 1991.
The survey of 423 likely general election voters in the race to succeed retiring US Representative James Langevin shows Fung’s lead over each of the six potential Democrats nominees – state Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Sarah Morgenthau, David Segal, Joy Fox, Omar Bah, and Cameron Moquin – is fueled by strong support from voters who identify as independents.
At least 43 percent of voters said they support Fung in each potential matchup, while the Democrats range in support from Magaziner at 38.5 percent to Moquin at 32.1 percent.
“This race, to me, is worthy of being a national story,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “The fact that you have a Republican as the favorite right now is mindboggling, and it speaks to what’s going on in the country.”
Here’s a breakdown of how each Democrat fares against Fung:
- Fung 44.9 percent, Magaziner 38.5 percent
- Fung 43.2 percent, Morgenthau 34.5 percent
- Fung 44.6 percent, Segal 34.5 percent
- Fung 44.6 percent, Fox 34 percent
- Fung 44.2 percent, Bah 33.8 percent
- Fung 45.8 percent, Moquin 32.1 percent
The cellphone and landline poll was conducted June 19 to June 22 by Suffolk, and the margin of error among general election voters in the 2nd District was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
Fung, a two-time Republican nominee for governor, is considered a heavy favorite in his Sept. 13 primary matchup with former state representative Robert Lancia.
Paleologos said Magaziner, who has twice been elected statewide, is best-positioned to run a competitive race against Fung, but he suggested that the treasurer can’t rely on the Democratic national agenda to carry him across the finish line. In the 2nd District, only 34 percent of voters said they approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing, and 71 percent said they don’t think he should run for reelection.
“I don’t think you’ll see Magaziner inviting President Biden to Rhode Island,” Paleologos said.
Magaziner’s campaign quickly released a statement declaring the treasurer “the strongest Democrat to take on Allan Fung in November.”
“Nothing would be more disastrous for Rhode Island than if Allan Fung wins in November and helps the right-wing extremists take control of Congress,” Magaziner spokeswoman Patricia Socarras said. “Magaziner will fight to defend the right to choose, protect Americans from gun violence, and reverse the climate crisis by creating clean energy jobs right here in the Ocean State.”
Fung also enjoys strong support among independents, where he leads Magaziner 58 percent to 20 percent, the poll shows. Paleologos said Fung shows strength across all age groups, but he’s vulnerable among female voters. Magaziner leads Fung 45 percent to 34 percent with women.
Republicans are widely expected to win back control of the US House of Representatives in the midterm elections, but they weren’t necessarily counting on a win in Rhode Island to help them secure the majority. Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Republican to any statewide or federal office since 2006, when Don Carcieri won reelection as governor.
Langevin surprised Rhode Island Democrats when he announced in January that he wouldn’t seek a 12th term in Congress, creating a rare vacancy in the state’s federal delegation. Magaziner, who previously announced plans to run for governor, switched races, and has been the frontrunner on the Democratic side ever since.
A majority of Democratic primary voters still say they are undecided in the race, although Magaziner is the only candidate with double-digit support. Morgenthau most recently worked at the US Commerce department, and her mother, Ruth, was the Democratic nominee in the 2nd District in 1988 (she lost).
Segal is a former Providence councilman and state representative who ran for Congress in 2010 in Rhode Island’s 1st District. Fox runs a public relations firm and previously worked for Langevin and former governor Gina Raimondo. Bah is a torture survivor and refugee from The Gambia who founded The Refugee Dream Center in Providence. Moquin is a Providence firefighter.
The 2nd congressional district includes most of the southern and western parts of Rhode Island, from Westerly to Johnston and parts of Providence. It’s considered more conservative than the 1st district, which includes most of Providence, the Blackstone Valley, and the East Bay, and has been represented by US Representative David Cicilline since 2011.
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Dan McGowan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.