Poll: Gorbea leading R.I. governor’s race

PROVIDENCE – A new poll by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University shows Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea leading the Rhode Island governor’s race, the Globe reported Monday. 

The poll shows Gorbea at 24% among the 353 likely Democratic primary voters of the 800 general election voters statewide that Suffolk University called from June 18-22, according to the report. The margin of error among the likely Democratic primary voters was plus or minus 5.2 percentage points. 

The incumbent, Gov. Daniel J. McKee, was right behind Gorbea at 20%, followed by former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes at 16%, former Secretary of State Matt Brown at 5% and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz at 1.4%. 

The Rhode Island Democratic and Republican primaries will be held on Sept. 13. 

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“It appears Foulkes has really made a move from the bottom tier,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, told the Globe. “Now it’s not a two-person race – it’s a three-person race.” 

A WPRI-TV CBS 12/Roger Williams University poll in May showed McKee in the lead at 25%, with Gorbea right behind him at 23%, Brown at 7% and Foulkes at 6%. 

The Globe also reported that Foulkes’ campaign account had $1.5 million in cash on hand at the end of the first quarter of 2022, the most of all the gubernatorial candidates. McKee had nearly $1.1 million in his war chest, Gorbea had $900,000, Brown had $79,000 and Muñoz had $2,000. 

“She must have been looking at the previous poll and her own polling and said, ‘Well, I’m way behind – I have to spend some money and introduce myself.’ And it looks like she is in contention, whereas she was not a month ago,” Paleologos told the Globe. 

Paleologos also told the Globe that the Globe/Suffolk University poll showed just 3% of Black voters and 2% of Hispanic voters support Foulkes, a significant weakness for the former CVS executive. Paleologos noted that the poll indicates McKee has maintained the Black and Latino support that helped him cling to a victory in the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Of those polled, 31% of Black voters and 21% of Hispanic voters back McKee, while 22% of Black voters and 19% of Hispanic voters support Gorbea, according to the Globe’s report. 

In 2018, McKee defeated Aaron Regunberg by doing well in areas with significant Latino populations such as Central Falls and South Providence. McKee has been running as a team with Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, a former Providence City Council president who is the first Afro-Latina to hold the post. 

However, in the current race, Gorbea, if elected, would be the first Latina elected governor in New England and the first Puerto Rican-born governor in the U.S. The Globe/Suffolk poll found she and McKee are within the margin of error among Hispanic voters. Gorbea leads among white voters, at 26%, followed by Foulkes at 21% and McKee at 19%, according to the report. 

The poll showed McKee is leading among male voters, at 26%, compared with 19% for Gorbea and 11% for Foulkes. However, Gorbea leads among female voters, at 28%, compared with 20% for Foulkes and 17% for McKee. 

In the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the eastern swath of the state stretching from Woonsocket to Newport, Paleologos told the Globe that Gorbea is dominant. Of those polled there, 29% support Gorbea, while 18% support McKee and 12% back Foulkes. However, it’s a tie in the 2nd Congressional District with McKee and Foulkes both at 22% and Gorbea trailing at 19%.

McKee showed a 40% approval rating in the Globe/Suffolk poll, while 37.5% disapproved and 21.5% remained undecided. 

In the Rhode Island Republican primary for governor, Ashley Kalus is running against Rey Alberto Herrera and David Darlington.

The Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll also found that Republican Allan W. Fung leads each of his Democratic opponents in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, D-R.I., in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, with at least 43% in each potential matchup with the six Democrat nominees – R.I. Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Sarah Morgenthau, David Segal, Joy Fox, Omar Bah and Cameron Moquin – while the Democrats range in support from Magaziner at 38.5% to Moquin at 32.1%. 

The survey of 423 likely general election voters in the race shows Fung’s lead over each of his potential rivals is fueled by strong support from voters who identify as independents, according to the Globe report. The margin of error among general election voters in the 2nd Congressional District was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. 

“This race, to me, is worthy of being a national story,” Paleologos told the Globe. “The fact that you have a Republican as the favorite right now is mindboggling, and it speaks to what’s going on in the country.”