Ten Surprises from RI Benchmark Political Poll

Sunday, October 22, 2017


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There were a number of surprises in the recently released poll conducted by Harvard's John Della Volpe in partnership with GoLocalProv.com.

The benchmark poll measured how Rhode Islanders feel about the economy, what they see as the most important issues, and how well they think their elected officials are performing.

Take a look at some of the interesting and, for some, surprising findings -- SEE SLIDES BELOW

The GoLocalProv.com Benchmark Poll was conducted by Socialsphere -- founded by Della Volpe. He is the Director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. He is one of America's leading pollsters and appears on "Morning Joe" and "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah to name a few. 


Related Slideshow: Ten Surprises from Benchmark Poll

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18 to 34

Younger Rhode Islanders are significantly more positive about the direction of the state than any other demographic group, but even they hate the PawSox deal.

"Right direction" of the state and Gina Raimondo both do significantly better with younger voters.

The survey shows that 80% of 18 to 34-year-olds oppose the proposed funding for the PawSox stadium.

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Governor Gina Raimondo has real problems. Only elected with 40 percent of the vote, Raimondo has had some success in attracting companies like Johnson & Johnson and General Electric, but the criticism by former Governor Lincoln Chafee and others that her economic policy is a "candy store" for corporations seems to be impacting her reputation.

After four years as General Treasurer and four years as Governor are Rhode Islanders just getting tired of her?

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Not Buying

Rhode Islanders are simply not interested in funding the PawSox deal. Pollster John Della Volpe has polled on bond questions in Rhode Island and most recently on the Port question and said on GoLocal LIVE that he has never seen such low support for a question like this in Rhode Island.

Simply, regardless of age group, political affiliation, and geographic area in which people live in the state are adamantly opposed to taking on the moral obligation of the bonds to fund a privately owned stadium.

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Lt. Governor Dan McKee has a name recognition problem. When asked, "Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?"  

More than 50 percent cannot rate him or have never heard of McKee.

Even after three years in office, the majority of Rhode Islanders either have no opinion or refused to answer.

Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?
Excellent 3%
Good 16%
Fair 21%
Poor 8%
Never heard of 26%
Cannot rate  25%

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Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello is now faced with his former opponent Steve Frias going door-to-door canvassing against the proposed PawSox deal. West Bay voters only approve of the PawSox deal at a rate of 27 percent.

Mattiello is battling issues tied to staffer Frank Montanaro and claims of sexual harassment at the General Assembly. 

Mattiello needs to ask himself, "Is it worth losing your district and the Speakership for the PawSox deal?"

Mattiello beat Frias by less than 100 votes in 2016.

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Governor Gina Raimondo's weak numbers may inspire former Governor Lincoln Chafee to challenge her in the Democratic primary.

Chafee could spend dollar for dollar with Raimondo. He left office with poor poll numbers.

Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?
Excellent 6%
Good 28%
Fair  30%
Poor 31%
Never heard of 1%
Cannot rate  3%

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Under 40%

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse shows significant weakness in the recent GoLocal Benchmark Poll conducted by Socialsphere. According to the survey, Whitehouse’s job performance has a combined excellent/good of 39 percent.  And, 49 percent of Rhode Islanders score his performance fair/poor.  

Combined 13 percent of Rhode Islanders said they have not heard of him or cannot rate.

Whitehouse who has been a national leader is fighting Greenhouse gases has taken a number of hits in his home state.  A GoLocal investigation found that Whitehouse’s wife is one of the largest shareholders in the all-white Bailey’s Beach Club — and Senator Whitehouse continues to visit the exclusive club. When he first ran for Senate in 2006, he promised to drop his membership in exclusive clubs. Instead of dropping his association with the club -- he transferred his ownership to his wife.

In addition, Whitehouse recently had dinner with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at their home despite having spent months calling for an investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee into Kushner’s roll in the Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Whitehouse is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Whitehouse’s numbers show vulnerability. Former RI Supreme Court Judge Robert Flanders is expected to run for the United States Senate against Whitehouse as a Republican. Flanders will face a primary with Republican State Representative Bobby Nardolillo.

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The survey questions that ask about how Rhode Island is performing or how people feel about how people feel about their family finances are pointing down. 

Rhode Islanders are not pleased with the direction of the state and only one of the 13 elected official were rated more positive than negative. Jack Reed was the only official over 50% -- combined Excellent/Good.

Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent 22%
Good 29%
Fair 23%
Poor 15%
Never heard of 6%
Cannot rate 6%

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Donald Trump has lost significant support since last November's election -- his Excellent/Good number is a dismal 25 percent.

But, as low as that is, it is higher than Seth Magaziner, Peter Kilmartin, of Dan McKee.

Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?
Excellent 13%
Good 12%
Fair 14%
Poor 57%
Never heard of 0%
Cannot rate 3%

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Rhode Island's economy has recovered from "The Great Recession" and employment in June hit a record high -- just under 500,000 working. 

However, Rhode Islanders are dissatisfied. 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Governor Raimondo is handling the state economy?
Approve 41%
Disapprove 48%
Don't know/Refused 11%


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