Why tonight’s gubernatorial debate will be pivotalOctober 26th, 2010 at 4:45 pm by Ted Nesi under General Talk
The four men vying to become Rhode Island’s next governor – Moderate Ken Block, Democrat Frank Caprio, independent Lincoln Chafee and Republican John Robitaille – will meet tonight for our final televised debate of the fall campaign. And it promises to be a doozy.
The debate will air right here on WPRI.com from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and the first hour will be shown commercial-free on WPRI 12, as well. Once again, Tim White will be moderating with an assist from two Projo columnists, and I’ll be live-tweeting next to our WPRI.com debate stream via my Twitter feed. (And don’t worry Celtics fans, I’ll keep you posted about the opener while you do your civic duty.)
In the wake of Shoveitgate and Rasmussen’s Friday poll – and with just one week left before voters cast their ballots – this may be the most important debate of the race. I would be astonished if it stayed as sedate as the last encounter between the quartet on our airwaves just two weeks ago – if Frank Caprio and John Robitaille want to win, they can’t let that happen.
I’m particularly interested in Caprio’s strategy tonight as he fights a two-front war, trying to cut into Chafee’s support on the center-left while beating back Robitaille’s surge from the center-right. Here’s the long view of the contest’s dynamic, as captured by Rasmussen in its nine surveys since February (Ken Block was not always included):
Remember, too, that in a race with three strong contenders, it only takes a small share of the vote – say, 35% to 38% – to emerge as the victor and the next governor of Rhode Island. With Caprio and Robitaille splitting the anti-Chafee vote, Chafee can win if he holds onto the base of support he’s built up. That’s the reason Caprio’s people allegedly tried to get Robitaille to drop out of the race.
After the debate, I’ll post my impressions here on the blog – you can share your own in the comments – and we’ll have full coverage on TV at 10 and 11 and on WPRI.com. We’ll get a fuller picture of where things stand two days from now, when we release our latest WPRI poll by Fleming & Associates on Thursday evening.
(image credit: Josh Davis/WPRI)