The topline figures in last week's WPRI-TV poll were not great news for Attorney General Patrick Lynch, as he tries to outmanuever Treasurer Frank Caprio for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The poll gave Caprio higher job performance ratings and had him virtually tied with independent Lincoln Chafee in a general election matchup. Lynch, by contrast, trailed Chafee by 11 points in a general election tilt. That makes it harder for Lynch to convince Democratic donors to back him. And that's not good.
But look deep into the numbers and you find another problematic tidbit. Lynch has been fighting with Chafee to win the support of organized labor, a diminished but still important player in statewide politics. Caprio, who has positioned himself as a moderate, is widely viewed as out of the running for union support.
But the poll has union voters giving Caprio comparable or even better marks than Lynch: 46 percent give Lynch a favorable rating to 49 percent unfavorable, while 49 percent give Caprio favorable marks to 36 percent unfavorable.
The rank-and-file are, of course, different than the union political leadership. Just ask Ronald Reagan. But if union leaders seem unlikely to support Caprio anytime soon, these numbers - combined with the topline numbers showing Chafee to be the strongest candidate - may give them reason to sit out the primary and throw their lot in with Linc.