Warwick City Hall

The Cities and Towns that Decided the Primary for Fung and Raimondo

Warwick City Hall
Warwick City Hall (photo by Marcbela – retrieved via Wikimedia Commons)

Ted Nesi has a good post up about where the majority of the votes for Allan Fung and Gina Raimondo came from. Just a handful of cities and towns make up the majority for each. Both lists give you a good idea of where the majority of votes for each party come from, they’re almost exactly aligned with what past primaries have shown: a few cities and towns tend to provide most of the votes for the Democratic and Republican parties. Notable this year though: Clay Pell’s support in Johnston made it less relevant to the Democratic primary, and turnout in Newport was unusually low in both primaries.

I thought it would be worth looking at where the decisive wins were. After all, if Raimondo wins 6000 votes in one town and Taveras also wins 6000 votes there, as far as determining who won the election, it’s a wash. It’s where Raimondo and Fung won by large margins that we can tell what communities were decisive for campaigns.

Here are the cities and towns which made up the majority (53.23%) of Raimondo’s winning margin of 16,664 votes:

  1. Warwick, by 1642 votes (9.85% of margin of victory)
  2. Cumberland, by 1613 votes (9.68% of margin of victory)
  3. Johnston, by 898 votes (5.39% of margin of victory)
  4. Barrington, by 892 votes (5.35% of margin of victory)
  5. Cranston, by 873 votes (5.24% of margin of victory)
  6. East Providence, by 782 votes (4.69% of margin of victory)
  7. North Providence, by 764 votes (4.59% of margin of victory)
  8. South Kingstown, by 722 votes (4.33% of margin of victory)
  9. North Kingstown, by 684 votes (4.11% of margin of victory)

In stark contrast, here is the city which made up the majority (64.35%) of Fung’s winning margin of 3131 votes:

  1. Cranston, by 2015 votes (64.35% of margin of victory)

You can look at the full data set for both races here.

So what does this tell us? Even though Providence made up the largest portion of Raimondo’s votes, it mattered far less than many other municipalities (Providence came in 24th as a portion of Raimondo’s victory, sandwiched between West Warwick and Jamestown). Raimondo’s success also came in winning large margins over Taveras in places not normally so important to the Democratic primary, such as Barrington and the two Kingstowns.

I think it’s also worth talking about whether Pell was a spoiler or not here. Pell racked up narrow wins over Taveras in quite a few places, but they had low vote totals. There, you might argue Taveras played the spoiler to Pell. But Pell may have seriously blunted Taveras’ impact in the urban core, where their combined totals could’ve dwarfed the success Raimondo had in the more suburban areas. While this election has been portrayed as one of a split between progressives or a split between unions, what it seems to be more like is that there were two candidates who split the majority of the urban vote. Pell’s weakness in Providence highlights his role as a spoiler to Taveras (Taveras’ opinion otherwise aside). On the other hand, Taveras should not have lost to Raimondo in Providence, where he remains broadly popular.

The narrative in the Republican primary is very much like I said a week ago: Fung crushed Block in Cranston and that made up for his absolutely awful campaign. Cranston is a Republican stronghold, Fung is the sitting mayor of Cranston, he won there. Block’s only hope to blunt the impact of Cranston would’ve been a decisive victory in Warwick (the other Republican stronghold), decisive wins everywhere else, or to somehow energize a whole new bloc of voters across the state. He did none of that, and he lost. Warwick was split nearly evenly and Block’s biggest advantage over Fung was a 227 vote margin in Barrington. Even with roughly 10,000 more voters in the GOP primary than in 2010, the bigger share of that new turnout went to Fung.

The lesson for would-be Republican nominees? Don’t run against the Mayor of Cranston or the Mayor of Warwick unless you happen to be mayor of the other city or have a way of blunting the impact of their city.


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