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RI Gov. Raimondo’s Approval Rating Plummets - Only 6.5% Think She is Doing An Excellent Job

Monday, April 25, 2016


The poll released today by Brown University’s Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy finds that Governor Gina Raimondo’s approval ratings have plummeted. Only 6.5 percent of Rhode Islanders think she is doing an “excellent” job as Governor and another 24 percent think she is doing a “good job."

Combined, Raimondo is scoring just 30.5 percent approval of her performance after 16 months in office.  Raimondo won in 2014 with 40.7% of the vote.

Most Rhode Islanders believe she is performing poorly. According to the poll, 30.2 percent rate her performance as “fair” and the largest group - 32.5% - rate her performance as “poor.”

The Governor has been slammed recently for her administration's poor performance in managing the state’s multi-million dollar tourism campaign. "After nearly two years, I think the Rhode Island jury is still out.  Folks are taking a wait and see attitude.  If you're in the Governor's camp, you can spin it your way, if you're an opponent, you can spin it your way as well," said Jim Morone, Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy.

The poll surveyed a random sample of 600 registered Rhode Island voters who are likely to vote in the Presidential primaries. It was conducted April 19 to 21 and has an overall margin of error of 4 percent.

About the Taubman Center

The Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy serves as the hub connecting Brown University students, faculty, community members, and distinguished visitors around the interdisciplinary study, research, and advocacy of sound public policy. Part of Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the Taubman Center brings people together to address local, state, national, and global policy issues. 


Related Slideshow: Raimondo’s First 75 Days

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Out of State Staff

Raimondo shook things up prior to taking office when she announced she was bringing in former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley Administration members Scott Neuman for Chief of Staff and Scott Jensen for Department of Labor and Training, and ousting former Healthsource RI head Christie Ferguson for Anya Rader Wallack from Vermont.   Suddenly, what had previously been often parochial appointments suddenly gained a national look -- prompting further speculation that the news Governor could ultimately be eyeing a bigger stage. 

Pictured: Martin O'Malley

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In-State Staff

While Raimondo went out of state for a number of hires, the new Governor made a point of keeping on high-profile Rhode Island political faces to serve in her Administration, from former Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts as Secretary of Health and Human Services, to former DLT Director (and Lt. Governor) Charlie Fogarty as head of Elderly Affairs, to former Traffic Magistrate and seasoned political operative David Cruise as Legislative Director and former Governor Sundlun press secretary Barbara Cottam as the new Chair of the state Board of Education.

Pictured: Charlie Fogarty

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Snow Storm Politics

Just weeks into her Administration, Raimondo declared a state of emergency prior to winter storm Juno hitting Rhode Island. Raimondo earned high marks for the handling of the preparations and response to the storm, and subsequent snow falls soon after. "The big Rhode Island story has been the heavy snowfall. It has given the Governor an opportunity to dominate the news and show herself to be in charge," said Darrell West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies at the Brooking Institution in February.  "She has become the contemporary Joe Garrahy who used the weather to propel his popularity. This will help her down the road when she needs public support."

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Female Staff Pay

Despite campaigning on the issue of pay equity for women as a candidate for Governor in Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo’s staff is top heavy with highly paid men, who on average make significantly more than women. We hear it every election year. Candidates from all over the country promise to fight for pay equity for woman and minorities. It sounds good and is music to our ears but the truth is we are at the crossroads on this issue and have been for many years," wrote former State Representative and GoLocal MINDSETTER Joanne Giannini

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Minimum Wage Increase

Governor Raimondo's call to increase Rhode Island's minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 has been met with mixed reviews -- support by community groups and opposition from business and taxpayer organizations. "Minimum wage workers do not earn enough to meet their basic needs.  The Rhode Island Standard of Need, a study that documents the cost of living in the Ocean State, shows that a single adult needed to earn $11.86 per hour in order to meet his or her most basic needs in 2014," said the Economic Progress Institute in submitted testimony prior to Raimondo's announcement.

"A higher minimum wage becomes yet another burden for businesses to bear.  Despite that, the Rhode Island General Assembly raised the minimum wage three times in the last three years, further exacerbating the state's anti-business climate," said Larry Girouard with RI Taxpayers. "The last thing that the state's businesses need is yet another increase in the minimum wage, whether now or next year."

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Taylor Swift Tax

In her budget proposal presented on March 12, Raimondo floated a luxury tax for second homes, which was swiftly dubbed the "Taylor Swift tax," for the pop star whose second (or third, or fourth) home in Watch Hill would qualify. 

"Disguised as a wealth tax, the "Taylor Swift tax" is really an assault on private property rights and an infringement on municipal sovereignty. You deserve better. This strategy is clearly represented in the language of the governor's proposed tax scheme, which describes property ownership as a "privilege." Further, with the state exerting control over property taxes, local governments could find themselves with diminished sovereignty to manage real-estate issues," said the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity. 

Watch to see if Raimondo's proposal, which is intended to yield over $12 million by placing a statewide property tax on second homes worth more than $1 million, withstands the scrutiny -- and chopping block -- of the General Assembly.

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Medicaid Overhaul

When Raimondo signed an executive order during the last week of February establishing a "Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid", citing that as Governor she has an "obligation to fix a broken system," the Governor cited it wasn't just about cuts -- but her budget proposal unveiled in March is contingent on tens of millions in Medicaid cuts. 

"Cuts, that's not what this is about," said Raimondo at the press conference unveiling the working group.  "It's about tough discussions to look at short term cost savings but long term delivery system changes to yield long term reform and better outcomes."

Following the budget proposal, however, critics questioned what would happen if the Medicaid cuts didn't come to fruition. "While the governor's tax increases are all too real, her spending cuts are mostly hypothetical place-holders," said Monique Chartier with RI Taxpayers. "What will happen, for example, if her working group does not identify a way to cut $46 million in Medicaid spending next month?"

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Pension Reform Suit

The vote on the latest pension reform settlement is slated for this week, possibly putting to rest years of legal challenges to the state's landmark 2011 pension reform legislation -- which was the result of then-General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's efforts. Whether or not a settlement is reached, or if it goes to trial, any changes to the savings predicted by the reform would have to be accounted in part now by Governor Raimondo, along with cities and towns).  Any decisions made in the coming weeks on the pension reform front should make the second 75 days of the Raimondo administration look markedly different from the first, given the magnitude of developments that unfold. 

Pictured: Former Chief Justice Frank Williams, who was appointed Special Master in the pension case


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