Taubman Center for Public Policy Survey

 

Chafee Leads Whitehouse and Brown; Carcieri Leads Fogarty

 

A statewide survey of 470 Rhode Island voters conducted June 25-27, 2005 finds that former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse would give incumbent Lincoln Chafee a competitive run in a U.S. Senate race.Additionally, incumbent Gov. Donald Carcieri leads Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty in the governorís race.The poll also found respondents support embryonic stem cell research, medical marijuana and extension of pension plan to judges, state police and prison guards; they oppose union for child-care workers.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. ó Former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse would give Republican U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee a race, according to a new statewide survey conducted by researchers at Brown University. If the 2006 U.S. Senate election were held today, 41 percent of voters would support Chafee while 36 percent would back Whitehouse. Among women, Chafee leads Whitehouse 42 to 34 percent, while leading by only 42 to 40 percent among men.

Neither man, however, does a very good job of holding onto the support of his partyís faithful. Among Democrats, Whitehouse led Chafee only 51 to 31 percent, while among Republicans Chafee led Whitehouse 46 to 32 percent. Despite the apparent competitiveness of this race, Chafeeís job approval score is above the crucial 50 percent threshold of support, with 53 percent of voters rating his performance either good or excellent (up from 48 percent in a February survey). Among independent voters, Chafee led Whitehouse 48 to 31 percent.

The survey was conducted June 25-27, 2005, at Brown University by Darrell M. West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy and the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory. It is based on a statewide random sample of 470 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The survey also pitted the incumbent, Chafee, against Democrat and current Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown. Chafee led Brown among all voters 44 to 29 percent. These numbers are an improvement for each man since February, when Chafee led Brown 39 to 25 percent. Among women, Chafee led Brown 42 to 30 percent, while holding a 48 to 28 percent lead among men. Among Democrats, Chafee only trailed Brown by 6 points (37 to 43 percent), while leading Brown among Republicans 46 to 23 percent. Independents broke more than two to one for Chafee over Brown (51 to 24 percent).

If the Republican candidate were Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, Whitehouse leads the mayor 45 to 32 percent. Among Republicans, Laffey is ahead 65 to 16 percent, while Whitehouse has a strong lead over Laffey among Democrats (69 to 14 percent) and a narrower lead among Independents (41 to 37 percent). Among women, Whitehouse enjoys a 14-point lead (45 to 31 percent) over Laffey, while Whitehouse leads 47 to 36 percent among men.

In a match-up pitting Laffey against Brown, voters break 40 to 30 percent for Brown. This is an improvement for Brown over the February poll, when he led Laffey 30 to 27 percent. Among women, Brown is ahead 38 to 28 percent (compared to 29 to 26 percent in the previous poll), while with men, he leads Laffey 45 to 33 percent (34 to 29 percent in February). Among Republicans, Laffey is ahead of Brown 56 to 16 percent (compared to 68 to 6 percent in the poll conducted earlier this year). Among Democrats, Brown leads 62 to 11 percent (55 to 10 percent in February). With Independents, the candidates are tied at 35 percent each. (Laffey led 27 to 25 percent in February.)

Gov. Donald Carcieri has a lead over his presumed Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty. If the election were held today, Carcieri leads 48 to 39 percent (Carcieri led 44 to 33 percent in the poll conducted earlier this year). Among Republicans, Carcieri leads Fogarty 88 to 7 percent (relatively unchanged from Februaryís 89 to 6 percent finding), while Fogarty is ahead with Democrats 63 to 25 percent (an improvement over his 55 to 24 percent February showing). Carcieri also enjoys a 21-point margin with Independents, 55 to 34 percent. Among men, Carcieri leads 49 to 43 percent (down from 51 to 33 percent in February) and leads 48 to 37 percent among women. The latter is a strong improvement for Carcieri over February when he led among women 40 to 36 percent.

When asked about the job performance of various public officials, 57 percent feel Carcieri is doing a good job as governor (unchanged from Februaryís 57 percent). Fifty-three percent believe Fogarty is doing a good job as lieutenant governor (up from 46 percent). Forty-nine percent think Attorney General Patrick Lynch is doing a good job, slightly down from 50 percent in the February poll. Forty-two percent feel Brown is doing a good job as secretary of state, up from 36 percent. Thirty-eight percent believe Treasurer Paul Tavares is doing a good job, up from 36 percent. Sixteen percent rate the job performance of Senate President Joseph Montelbano as good or excellent (up from 15 percent) and 24 percent rate the performance of House Speaker William Murphy as good or excellent, up from 21 percent. Fifty-nine percent say Providence Mayor David Cicilline is doing a good job, down from 62 percent. Forty-four percent indicate that Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey is doing a good job, down from 51 percent in the last poll. Thirty-five percent of voters believe Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Judge Frank Williams is doing an excellent or good job.

President George Bushís support within the state has decreased as only one-quarter of Rhode Islanders believe he is doing an excellent or good job. This is a 6-point drop from February when 31 percent approved of his performance. Seventy-one percent of Rhode Island voters rate the performance of Sen. Jack Reed good or excellent, up from 63 percent in the previous survey. Sixty-three percent feel Rep. Jim Langevin is doing a good job in Congress (up from 59 percent) and 56 percent believe Rep. Patrick Kennedy is doing a good job (up from 49 percent).

Forty-three percent believe the state is headed in the right direction, while 44 percent feel it is headed on the wrong track. In the February survey, 52 percent believed the state was headed in the right direction while 26 percent stated that the state was headed on the wrong track.

Among issues under consideration at the state house or in the public eye, 67 percent of voters support the recently passed state bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Sixty-six percent of state voters support federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Fifty-five percent of state voters believe Rhode Island should have a minimum retirement age for new state workers and public school teachers, whereas 52 percent believe the state should tie cost-of-living increases for retired public employees to the rate of inflation. Voters overwhelmingly supported (71 to 10 percent) the proposal to change the state pension system to include judges, prison guards, and state troopers but opposed (51 to 36) a proposal that the state be forced to negotiate pay and work conditions with home-based child-care providers who care for state-subsidized children. Voters also opposed (48 to 27 percent) the expansion of liquefied natural gas facilities in Providence.

For more information, contact Brett M. Clifton at (401) 863-9335.

Survey Questions and Responses

If the U.S. Senate election were held today, would you vote for: 44% Republican Lincoln Chafee, 29% Democrat Matt Brown, 26% donít know or no answer

If the U.S. Senate election were held today, would you vote for: 41% Republican Lincoln Chafee, 36% Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, 22% donít know or no answer

If the U.S. Senate election were held today, would you vote for: 30% Republican Stephen Laffey, 40% Democrat Matt Brown, 29% donít know or no answer

If the U.S. Senate election were held today, would you vote for: 32% Republican Stephen Laffey, 45% Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, 22% donít know or no answer

If the governorís election were held today, would you vote for: 48% Republican Don Carcieri, 39% Democrat Charles Fogarty, 13% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job George W. Bush is doing as president? 5% excellent, 19% good, 30% only fair, 44% poor, 2% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as US Senator? 27% excellent, 44% good, 16% only fair, 4% poor, 10% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Lincoln Chafee is doing as U.S. Senator? 10% excellent, 43% good 26% only fair, 16% poor, 6% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. Representative? 14% excellent, 42% good, 24% only fair, 13% poor, 7% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as U.S. Representative? 15% excellent, 48% good, 17% only fair, 5% poor, 15% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Don Carcieri is doing as governor? 21% excellent, 36% good, 25% only fair, 15% poor, 4% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Charles Fogarty is doing as lieutenant governor? 8% excellent, 44% good, 18% only fair, 3% poor, 25% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Patrick Lynch is doing as attorney general? 7% excellent, 41% good, 27% only fair, 10% poor, 13% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Matt Brown is doing as secretary of state? 5% excellent, 37% good, 21% only fair, 3% poor, 34% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Paul Tavares is doing as general treasurer? 6% excellent, 32% good, 19% only fair, 4% poor, 38% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Joseph Montelbano is doing as Senate President? 2% excellent, 15% good, 22% only fair, 15% poor, 46% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job William Murphy is doing as Speaker of the House? 3% excellent, 21% good, 24% only fair, 20% poor, 31% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job David Cicilline is doing as mayor of Providence? 16% excellent, 42% good, 20% only fair, 9% poor, 11% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Stephen Laffey is doing as mayor of Cranston? 17% Excellent, 27% good, 15% only fair, 13% poor, 26% donít know or no answer

How would you rate the job Frank Williams is doing as chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court? 7% excellent, 27% good, 18% only fair, 8% poor, 37% donít know or no answer

Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track? 43% right direction, 44% wrong track, 11% donít know or no answer

Do you favor or oppose a bill that would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes? 67% favor, 22% oppose, 9% donít know or no answer

Do you think the U.S. national government should provide funding for embryonic stem cell research? 66% yes, 22% no, 10% donít know or no answer

Do you believe Rhode Island should have a minimum retirement age for new state workers and public school teachers? 55% yes, 32% no, 11% donít know or no answer

Should Rhode Island tie cost-of-living increases for retired public employees to the inflation rate? 52% yes, 33% no, 12% donít know or no answer

Should changes in the state pension system be applied to judges, prison guards, and state troopers? 71% yes, 10% no, 14% donít know or no answer

Do you think Rhode Island state government should be required to negotiate over pay and work conditions with home-based child-care providers who care for state-subsidized children? 36% yes, 51% no, 10% donít know or no answer

Do you favor or oppose the expansion of liquefied natural gas facilities in Providence? 27% favor, 48% oppose, 22% donít know or no answer