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Breaking down the new Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll in Rhode Island

On the Rhode Island Report podcast, columnist Dan McGowan explores how a Republican could win a R.I. congressional seat, and the good news/bad news for Helena Foulkes

Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, a Republican, and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, a Democrat

PROVIDENCE — The results of a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll should set off alarms for Democrats nationally because it shows Republican Allan W. Fung leading in hypothetical matchups against all the potential Democratic opponents in the 2nd Congressional District race.

That was one of the takeaways that Globe Rhode Island columnist Dan McGowan highlighted as he reviewed the new poll results on the Rhode Island Report podcast.

“I think it will set off alarm bells nationally,” McGowan said. “A Republican might win a congressional seat in Rhode Island.“

Right now, there are no Republicans in the US House of Representatives from New England. The only Republican US senator is Maine’s Susan Collins. And the 2nd Congressional District, which includes the western swath of Rhode Island, hasn’t elected a Republican since Claudine Schneider served in the House from 1981 to 1991.

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The poll examined how Fung, a former Cranston mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate, would fare against each of his potential six Democratic opponents: Seth Magaziner, Omar Bah, Joy Fox, David A. Segal, Sarah E. Morgenthau, and Cameron Moquin. In each case in, Fung came out on top.

While the poll results might surprise those just tuning in, Rhode Island Democrats have been sounding the alarm for months now, McGowan said. “Allan Fung is a very viable candidate,” he said. And that’s why Democratic candidates such as Magaziner are focusing their attacks on Fung rather than on their Democratic rivals, he said.

But the poll was conducted before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally.

And McGowan said that could hurt Fung by focusing attention on his views on abortion rights. For instance, Fung has said the Reproductive Privacy Act — a 2019 state law protecting abortion rights in Rhode Island in case Roe v. Wade is overturned — “went too far.”

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“It would be hard to imagine that it wouldn’t cut against his strength,” McGowan said. While Fung would prefer to focus on his tenure as mayor or the Biden presidency, he said Fung will now have to answer questions about why he has not supported reproductive rights like his Democratic opponents.

McGowan also delved into the poll results in the Democratic gubernatorial primary that show Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea leading at 24 percent, just ahead of Governor Daniel J. McKee at 20 percent. He said one of the more interesting developments is the surge of former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes, who has risen to 16 percent after registering just 6 percent in an early May poll by WPRI-12 and Roger Williams University.

“So she’s a real factor,” McGowan said of Foulkes. “It is clearly a three-way race for governor on the Democratic side.”

But the poll also provides some bad news for Foulkes, who receives support from just 3 percent of Black voters and 2 percent of Hispanic voters. “This is a major red flag, I think, for the Foulkes campaign,” McGowan said. “She is barely registering with Black and Latino voters in our poll.”

Hear more by downloading the latest episode of Rhode Island Report, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, and other podcasting platforms, or listen in the player above.

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Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.