The Big Poll: Rich White Men are Superheroes

Batman (artwork by Jim Lee, used as fair use to illustrate a point)

Obviously, the big story yesterday was the WPRI/Providence Journal poll. The margin of error was 4.38%, so that’s the first thing to take into account. The other thing I think is worth pointing out is that a study of polling in gubernatorial primary races by Nate Silver found an average error of 7.8%. While my understanding is that Fleming and Associates have taken pains to ensure they don’t end up with a repeat of 2012, savvy news consumers should still be skeptical (as always, about everything). The proof will be the results on September 9th.

My big takeaways?

Clay Pell is doing better. Which I guess means Ted Nesi’s earlier story is confirmed. I still think Pell would’ve done better service to Rhode Island by building a progressive political infrastructure. However we have to realize that rich, white men are superheroes, which means they can pretty much do anything they set their minds to. I think a Pell administration will be Chafee-esque, but we’ll see.

The races for Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State aren’t being watched. While I think Guillaume de Ramel fits neatly in the the rich white superhero mold, even his wealth and previous run hasn’t managed to give him a solid position in the race for Secretary of State. Over half of voters are undecided, which is probably due to both the low amount of attention given to the race and the nebulousness of what the position actually does.

The Lieutenant Governor’s race is also full of high undecideds. So far, Mollis’ name recognition gives him the lead, the Lieutenant Governor’s position is based entirely on what powers the Governor gives it. When Gov. Carcieri was in power, Lt. Gov. Roberts languished. With Gov. Chafee in power, Roberts was tasked with ushering in HealthSource RI, which gave her some profile.

I would expect both of these races to be decided in the voting booth, which means GOTV will be the most critical part of the campaign.

Magaziner might stop Caprio’s comeback. Though there are still quite a lot of undecideds here as well, it looks as though in this battle of the superheroes Seth Magaziner’s Democratic Party contacts trumps Frank Caprio’s Democratic Party contacts. With Bill Clinton and Patrick Kennedy coming in to stump to for Magaziner, he’s making the very safe gamble that Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island are loyal national Democratic primary voters — and rose-tinted glasses have made Clinton the most popular living Democratic president. It’s not all a one-way street though, Bill’s visit will undoubtedly help shore up support for a likely run by Hillary Clinton in 2016; Rhode Island chose her over Barack Obama in 2008.

Caprio, who has been a very bad Democrat since 2010, isn’t doing so hot. So far, only his admirers among the writers of GoLocalProv seem like they’re talking about him at all, and mainly then only in conjunction with trashing Magaziner.


Frankly, 2014 is proving that Rhode Island needs to think about how we can help lower-class candidates have the same reach as their well-heeled opponents. It seems like if you’re going to run for statewide office, the best advice you can get is “be rich.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s