Poll Shows Kennedy in Danger of Losing Rhode Island Seat
By Jerry A. Kane
Hot on the heels of the Massachusetts miracle where Republican State Senator Scott Brown toppled Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley, a recent WPRI-TV, Channel 12 poll reveals Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) could be facing his most difficult bid for re-election.
The poll, conducted by Fleming & Associates for WPRI-12, shows the eight-term incumbent with a 56 percent unfavorable rating in his district and a 62 percent unfavorable rating statewide. According to the poll, only 35 percent of voters in the First Congressional District said they would vote to re-elect him, 31 percent would consider a different candidate, and 28 percent would vote to replace him.
“It looks like it could be a very competitive race, which we haven’t seen in many years,” Eyewitness News analyst and pollster Joe Fleming said.
Among independents, only 26 percent would keep him in office, 42 percent would consider someone else, and 25 percent would vote ABK (anybody but Kennedy).
“The numbers for independent for [sic] voters have to be a big concern especially with what happened in Massachusetts with Scott Brown,” said Fleming. “He has to get independent voters back and support him in order to win re-election for congress.”
Republican state Representative John Loughlin who announced his candidacy Thursday was not mentioned in the telephone poll of registered voters, conducted between Jan. 27 and 31 with a margin of error of at least 3.8 percent.
“Clearly this is a Congressman who is out of touch,” Loughlin said. “He’s lost touch with his constituents and that’s certainly reflected in the numbers.”
Rhode Islanders are not just unhappy with Kennedy, none of the congressional Democrats polled well, including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse who managed only a 33 percent job performance rating, which is down 11 points from Brown University’s December poll.
The TV poll also shows that support for Obamacare has waned; only 38 percent of Rhode Islanders responded favorably to Washington’s health-care overhaul, a seven percent decrease from December.
Considering what happened among independent voters in Massachusetts, the son of leftist icon Edward M. Kennedy has reason for concern about his political future.
“This could become the race of Patrick Kennedy’s life,” said Fleming. “It depends on how strong his opponent is. If [they] can raise money, this could become a very serious race.”