Playing with the WPRI Poll: Doherty/Cicilline
The latest WPRI poll (story here) offers some interesting and somewhat confusing numbers regarding the Cicilline/Doherty race. First, we know that the majority of RI voters are either Democrats or Democrat-leaning unaffiliated (ie; independent) voters. Hence, we shouldn’t be surprised that David Cicilline leads Brendan Doherty 44% to 37.6% with 10% undecided and 6.4% for independent David Vogel. (Incidentally, Cicilline’s lead is just outside the polls margin of error of 6.2%).
But then there’s apparently some sort of cognitive dissonance going on when we look at the approval ratings for each. It’s reported that Cicilline’s job approval is “rated excellent or good by 38% of 1st District voters…while 55% rate his performance fair or poor.” So we’re to believe that there is a 6 point (negative) difference between Cicilline’s approval rating and those who say they intend to vote for him?
Well, I believe it.
Essentially, Cicilline’s 6 point lead over Doherty is attributable to voters who rate his job approval “fair or poor”, but in actuality, 21.2% of those surveyed gave Cicilline a “only fair” rating. And in this blue-blue state, “only fair” isn’t enough of a disincentive for many Democrats ( or those “independent” unaffiliated’s) to divorce themselves from the Donkey. So, if I were framing these poll results, I’d say at least half of those rating Cicilline fair will still vote for him. That puts him around 48% (heck, it could even really be 58%).
Comparing Cicilline’s “job approval” to Doherty’s “favorability” and trying to compare to the poll results for the actual horse race is difficult because the poll choices for them are different. For Doherty, 23% view him very positively, 25.7% somewhat positively, 12.2% somewhat negative, 8% very negative and 31% don’t know. These questions create clearer lines of demarcation to my mind. Basically, 48.7% view Doherty positively, 20.2% negatively and 31.1% don’t know. I wonder why voters aren’t aren’t asked “favorability” questions about incumbents, as well as challengers, in this manner? Regardless, one could argue based on the above twisting of the numbers that the race is still neck and neck with each candidate getting about a 48% favorability rating! How’s that for spin?
In actuality, the race is probably about where the poll says it is. Doherty has a 10 point deficit with those 60 years old and up and around 13 points among women. But he still has a shot with 10% undecided. 1 month to go.