Thursday, June 22, 2006

RI Democrats: Chafee's Only Hope?

In the last few weeks I've blogged quite a bit about Joe Lieberman, but gone whistling past the graveyard on Lincoln Chafee. I have no love for Chafee, but as long as he'll vote for a Republican Majority Leader, he's worth something. If you guaranteed me that Steve Laffey would win the Rhode Island general election, I'm sure I'd prefer him to Chafee, but if the choice is Chafee or a Democrat, I'll swallow hard and take Chafee.

That said, the Hotline has identified a great nugget about the upcoming Rhode Island primary: if the primary voters are more than 50 percent GOP, Chafee is a likely loser. With half Republican and half Democrat voters, Chafee barely ekes by:

The Big Number: 50
A new survey by the Bureau of Gov't Research Services at RI College shows that, should more than 50% of the primary electorate be made up of GOPers, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) is in danger of losing his seat to Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R). When a sample of GOPers is weighted at 60% GOP to 40% Independent, Laffey leads, 39% to 36%. But when the sample is made up of an even split between GOPers and indies, Chafee pulls it out by the skin of his teeth, 39% to 38%.

As we noted earlier this week, the Chafee camp's effort to convince Dems to switch their party affiliation to independent -- and thus be eligible to vote in the GOP primary -- may have paid off, as 14,500 Dems did, in fact, switch and become indies. In a state in which turnout for a GOP primary will likely be less than 45,000, those Dems -- more likely to vote for Chafee -- could save the race for him. In the same survey, 25% of RIers said they planned to vote in the GOP primary.

We'd sure like to see the cross-tabs on that question. Just how many of those were Dems? [REID WILSON]

If you want to read coverage of Chafee and Laffey like I've been writing about Lieberman and Lamont, check out the Corner and Sixers. I think it's safe to say that the National Review folks are less enthused with Chafee than I am.

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1 comment:

Quentin Langley said...

There is a real chance that Chafee will jump ship and run as an independent. Arguably, this improves his chances of winning, though three way races are very hard to call, and the dynamic often shifts in the final week. One thing to be said in its favour, from Chafee's point of view is this: unlike Lieberman, he faces a tough primary and then a tough general election. There are two chances for him to lose, and his odds are only about 50/50 each time. As an independent, he only has one election to fight, and it probably won't cut his odds much if he leaves the Republican Party.

Of course, from Laffey's point of view, this would be splendid. The GOP base in Rhode Island is little more than a third of the electorate. But in a three way race, that is enough to make you a contender.

Quentin Langley
editor of