How Cicilline won

By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  November 7, 2012

In the end, turnout in Rhode Island's First Congressional District was actually down some 9.8 percent from the last presidential election in 2008. But there is evidence that Democrats turned out voters where they had to.

A Phoenix analysis shows that turnout did not drop as precipitously in three Democratic strongholds that were vital to Cicilline's victory. In Providence (split between Cicilline's district and that of Congressman James Langevin), it dipped 6.2 percent. In Pawtucket, it dropped 5 percent. And in the much smaller Central Falls, which had a feisty mayor's race on the ballot, it actually ticked up by about 1 percent.

In the end, there is an argument to be made that pollsters should have anticipated a boost in Democratic turnout in a presidential election year. Joe Fleming, who conducts WPRI-TV's surveys, says he'll consider adding more Democrats to his sample come 2016.

If he'd taken that approach this time around, we might have learned a bit earlier that the Cicilline-Doherty race was never as close as it appeared.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at dscharfenberg@phx.com.Follow him on Twitter @d_scharfenberg. Read his "Not For Nothing" blog at providence.thephoenix.com.

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