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Tipsheet

After 30 Years, Rhode Island May Have a Republican in Congress Again

As part of the likely incoming red wave for the November midterms, Rhode Island may elect its first Republican to the House since 1992. Allan Fung generated buzz in February when he first declared he was running. Fung, who was mayor of Cranston, which is 15 percent of Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District, also gained name recognition for his 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial runs against former Gov. Gina Raimondo. He also ran unopposed in the primary last month. 

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Two polls were recently conducted showing Fung's lead outside or just barely within the margin of error against Democrat Seth Magaziner. The seat is currently held by Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), who is retiring. 

A poll conducted by The Boston Globe/Suffolk University showed Fung with 45 percent to Magaziner's 37 percent. Thirteen percent are undecided and 5 percent would support William Gilbert. Fung also has a double digit lead among Independents, 57 percent to Magaziner's 21 percent. 

That poll was conducted October 1-4, with 800 likely general election voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. Tellingly, the poll contained far more Independents and Democrats, at 42 percent and 39.38 percent respectively, than the 14.5 percent of Republicans. 

RealClearPolitics' (RCP) compilation of polling shows that this gap is wider than it was when the poll was conducted in June. Fung still had 45 percent support, but Magaziner had 39 percent. 

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Another recent poll came from WPRI/Roger Williams University, where Fung has a lead of 46 percent to Magaziner's 40 percent. Four percent would support Gilbert, and 9 percent are still undecided. The poll of 254 likely voters, which was conducted September 29-October 2, has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.2 percent, which is just slightly higher than Fung's lead.

12 News analyst Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll, is quoted in a write-up for WPRI 12 as describing the race as "still relatively close," and that "anything could happen." Fleming does also highlight the support that Fung has among 24 percent of Democrats: 

The poll shows Fung’s lead is built in part on his outsized strength with Democrats, 24% of whom are backing him. “If he can hold onto that he’s going to be in a decent position, because normally Republicans don’t get a quarter of the Democratic vote,” Fleming said.

By contrast, Magaziner is only supported by 63% of Democrats in the poll, and he is trailing Fung among independents 47% to 36%. Yet those numbers may also present an opportunity for Magaziner’s campaign, Fleming said.

“If I’m Seth Magaziner looking at these numbers, I’m going to say, well, I can do things over the next four weeks to get Democratic voters to come back home to me,” Fleming said.

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Not only does Magaziner have the support of only 63 percent of Democrats, but Fung has the support of 84 percent of Republicans. 

The write-up also points out that "strikingly" this new poll finds Fung leading Magaziner by the same margins as he did in late June. 

The candidates will debate on October 18 at 7:00pm, which will air on WPRI 12.

RCP considers the race to favor Fung, as it's "Lean GOP" and Cook Political Report has it as a "Toss-Up." 

Election Day is now just under four weeks away.

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