Kennedy, Cicilline and Those Pesky Polls

This week I've got a cover story on Patrick Kennedy, also running in the Boston Phoenix, which looks at a Congressman trying to make his own small mark in the large shadow of Camelot.

The piece notes that Kennedy has been able to rack up big victories against Republicans, even at his most vulnerable. That means an uphill battle for Republican State Representative John J. Loughlin II next year, though he has shown an early ability to raise money and develop a message.

Still, there is some reason for concern in the Kennedy camp. The president's party generally takes a hit during mid-term elections and Barack Obama's numbers have been falling. Kennedy, himself, does not have great numbers. A May 2009 poll out of Brown had 42 percent of voters giving him "good" or "excellent" job performance marks and 51 percent "fair" or "poor." He is "upside-down" - higher negatives than positives - in political parlance.

Looking further inside those numbers, one finds that 9 percent give him "excellent" ratings and 21 percent "poor." Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst at the Cook Political Report in Washington, said a candidate generally wants a 2.5:1 ratio of excellent to poor. Kennedy has a 2.5:1 ratio in the other direction.

A new poll out of Brown shows similar trouble for Providence Mayor David Cicilline. Forty percent give him "good" or "excellent" marks and 45 percent "fair" or "poor." His "excellent" number: 5 percent. His "poor" number: 17 percent.

Still, both candidates have to be considered heavy favorites going into next year, particularly if the economy picks up.

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