Campaigns react to poll that shows McKee, Fung leading their opponents

A new poll shows Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee with a solid lead in the race to keep his job, and Republican Allan Fung with a similar advantage in his attempt to flip the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
The Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows McKee leading Republican challenger Ashley Kalus, 46% to 36%, with nearly 14% of likely voters still undecided.

The poll of 800 likely voters has a margin of error of 3.5%.

“The record that we have over the last 18, 19 months will speak for itself,” McKee said Tuesday in response to the poll. “I think that we take it one day at time as we do with everything to make sure that keep our focus on the work to help people in the state of Rhode Island.”

Kalus, a newcomer to the state, said she’s gaining ground from people not knowing who she was earlier this year.

“We’re really excited. Six months ago, nobody know who I was. And I was down 30 points, then 20 points, then 13 points, then 10 points. So we’re making progress,” Kalus said. “And what we’re seeing is that I’m significantly ahead with independents.”

“We are moving in the right direction and this is what we expected. And I think as more people learn about me, remember, I am not a career politician, so people don’t know me yet. And as they learn about my message and my vision for the state, I think they’ll choose me over Dan McKee, a career politician that’s under FBI investigation,” Kalus said, referring to the federal probe of the ILO school contract handed out by the McKee administration.
The poll showed McKee’s approval rating at 45.5%, while 38% of respondents disapproved of the job he is doing as governor.

The approval number is up from 40% in a June Suffolk/Globe poll.

At 44%, the cost of living was overwhelmingly the single most important issue in the governor’s race, according to the poll. Abortion rights was second, at 15%.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed felt Rhode Island is on the wrong track, while 35% thought the state is headed in the right direction.

In the congressional race, the poll shows Fung with a 45% to 37% advantage over Democrat Seth Magaziner.

Four hundred twenty-two likely voters were surveyed in that race, with a margin of error of 4.8%.

Fung’s lead in that race is slightly larger than the results from a Suffolk/Globe poll in June.

“We’re focused on the issues impacting all Rhode Islanders right now,” Fung told NBC 10 News on Tuesday in response to the poll numbers.

Fung says his message on the cost of living is resonating.

“On top of it, you have my opponent, all he’s doing is just lying. People are seeing through that when he’s talking about my positions, things that I’ve never said, stretching the truth about what I would vote on,” Fung said, claiming Magaziner is lying about his stance on a national abortion ban and Social Security.

Magaziner did not make himself available to speak with NBC 10 News on Tuesday.

His campaign spokeswoman Patricia Socarras wrote in a statement, “Seth will win this race because he is focused on issues that matter to voters like protecting Social Security and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, while Allan Fung has consistently put his corporate donors ahead of working Rhode Islanders by opposing the Affordable Care Act and bills to lower the price of prescriptions that people depend on.”

“I think the thing that should concern the Magaziner campaign is the consistency of Allan Fung’s lead over Seth Magaziner,” said NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller.

“That means the advertising, the campaign ads that have been run against Allan Fung are not working in Magaziner’s favor. They are not denting that support,” Schiller said.