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NEW: Brown Poll has Chafee, Cicilline in the Tank

Thursday, December 15, 2011


A new public opinion survey by Brown University researchers finds the majority of Rhode Island voters support the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act (RIRSA), recent legislation that was passed to reform the state worker pension system.

Researchers at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown University surveyed a random sample of 464 Rhode Island voters from Dec. 2 to Dec. 9, 2011. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

The poll found that a large majority of Rhode Islanders (71.8 percent) has been paying attention to the pension issue, and nearly nine out of 10 Rhode Islanders (89.7 percent) feel that pension reform is important to the future economic well-being of the state. Overall, 60.1 percent of voters support or strongly support the new pension law, while 27.5 percent of respondents oppose or strongly oppose it. Support for RIRSA transcends party affiliation, with Independents (63.6 percent), Democrats (57.6 percent) and Republicans (64.4 percent) all solidly backing the bill. A majority (58.2 percent) believes that the state should also develop a uniform plan to fix independent municipal pension plans.

Voter identification

The poll asked voters whether they approve of a state law that will require voters to present identification in order to vote beginning in 2012. The vast majority of Rhode Islanders (84.9 percent) were in favor of the identification rule, regardless of party affiliation. Nearly four in five Democrats (79.4 percent) and almost all Republicans (96.6 percent) were in favor of voter identification. These results are consistent with national polls on support for voter identification requirements.

Tree controversy

The poll asked Rhode Islanders about the recent controversy over Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s “holiday tree.” When queried about which term they prefer for the decorated spruce tree in the State House, most voters picked “Christmas tree” (76.9 percent). Only 11.2 percent prefer “holiday tree” and nearly the same number, 11.9 percent, either didn’t care to weigh in or wanted to call it something else.

Approval ratings

Chafee’s approval rating has dipped, with only 27.4 percent of voters rating his work excellent or good. In March 2011, 32.3 percent of voters felt he was doing an excellent or good job. Democrats are the most satisfied with Chafee’s recent performance (38.8 percent), with Republicans (15.3 percent) and Independents (21.7 percent) much less so.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s approval rating has risen significantly, from 39.5 percent good or excellent in March 2011 to 52.0 percent in December 2011. Raimondo, a Democrat, has good or excellent ratings from a majority of Republicans (61 percent) and Independents (59.6 percent), but significantly lower marks from Democrats (37.5 percent). However, among Democrats, a high percentage (31.5 percent) didn’t know enough to judge her performance. Overall, a much larger percentage of voters had an opinion about Raimondo’s performance: In March 2011, 36.2 percent of voters didn’t know how to rate her performance, but in December 2011 that number had declined to 21.8 percent.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 44.2 percent, a similar number to March 2011, when it was 43.7 percent. Similarly, Rhode Islanders’ opinion on President Obama’s handling of the economy is virtually unchanged: 43.3 percent approved in March and 44 percent approve in December. A majority of Rhode Islanders still feels the state is on the “wrong track” (62.7 percent), a slight rise from the 60.2 percent who felt that way eight months ago.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline’s statewide approval rating is 24.3 percent, with a 23.1 percent approval rating in his district. U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin has a 41.9 percent approval rating overall with a 41.2 percent approval rating in his district. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has an approval rating of 33.6 percent and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed’s approval rating is 46.4 percent.

On the local level, Providence Mayor Angel Tavares’ 51.7 percent approval rating is higher than Rhode Island voters reported for most state or national public officials. Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts has an approval rating of 32.8 percent. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has an approval rating of 34.5 percent. Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis has a 25.6 percent approval rating, while 25.9 approve of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox and 24.1 approve of Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed.


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Charles Drago

David, we truly know ye ...

As your numbers so powerfully, permanently, and persuasively indicate.

Good luck in private life, you lying, incompetent little man.

george pratt

Will it be Governor Raimondo or Senator Raimondo?

jack flash

Gordon Fox does the will of David Cicilline!

Winston Smith

So Chafee's numbers continue to fall. That explains all the "Oh! he's LINCOLN Chafee not JOHN Chafee" crys we hear from the old folks homes accross the state.

Michael Trenn

I think that we 1st District Republicans should consider letting the Loughlin/ Doherty contest play out before any primary. Then, we could all declare as Independents and help take out the Congressmistake in the Primary. I think Gemma would be a better Rep than Chi-Chi, if we absolutely had to have another D in the seat. ABC (anybody but Cicilline)

Michael Trenn

I am also completely unsurprised at the Governot's numbers. He has taken a perverse delight in sticking his finger in the eyes of those Rhode Islanders who value tradition. It is already biting him on the butt. It's going to be a long three years before he's gone--long for us and much, much longer for him.

joe bernstein

I met Anthony Gemma years ago when he repaired a steam valve in my house-he got his hands dirty from work while going through law school.
David Cicilline also got his hands dirty-from drug dealers' money.
I'd sooner see a Republican in the 1st district seat,but Gemma is better than the lying little shyster.
I don't know what district I'll be in right now.

joe bernstein

Liberals whine about voter ID causing disenfranchisement.Of who?Foreign nationals(legal or not,they can't vote)?Every time a non citizen votes a US citizen loses their franchise.How about that Steven Brown?

joe bernstein

Chafee will be out on his inbred ass in three years and laughing at us as he enjoys his 47 million dollar net worth and he'll still be cheating on his car tax.We got played big time.well,I voted for Robitaille,so I'll take no blame for the reign of this monstrosity.

Victor Profughi

Never take a Brown poll seriously. It's an especially egregious journalistic failure to report this one. Although the numbers may appear credible, it would be virtually impossible to get so many voters from the first district in a truly random, properly drawn, sample statewide. So whatever validity there may be in the first district numbers is cast into doubt by the extremely absurd reporting of an obviously manipulated statewide sample.

Chris B

Beginning in 2012, poll workers will ask you for ID when you vote at the polls. More info about RI's new Voter ID law is posted on the Secretary of State's website.

E.J. Dunn

These numbers are interesting. No matter. Dolts vote. Scoundrels get reelected.

Fred Comella

Looking at the recent Brown University Poll I’m not surprised to see the negative numbers for most of our elected representation. My question is what do the people of Rhode Island expect? The current “state” of things here in Little Rhody is simply the inevitable byproduct of years of voter apathy and complacency which is only now registering in real terms for most folks. For too long, many Rhode Islanders have sat on the sidelines and watched their elected officials bankrupt the state and have then turned around and voted them right back into office. So is anyone truly surprised at the result of this type of hypocrisy? We are simply paying the price and it hurts.

Now I know this sounds a bit simplistic, but it speaks to that old “definition of insanity” thing. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to see if these numbers are ultimately reflected in the coming elections. How much of their partisan rhetoric will some in the “crookedest” little state in the union be willing to put aside for the sake of the next generation. Oh, and is anyone surprised the “Governor” isn’t surprised by the poll numbers and thinks it’s just economy. This guy brings new meaning to the word “detached”.

James Berling

I’m trying very very hard to convince myself that I should stay here in RI and help turn things around. Maybe some day the crooked, big government, tax and spend Democrats will be seen for what they are—the bad guys. Maybe someday we will be able to break the stranglehold they have on this once proud state. But when I see a despicable liar like Cicilline win handily in spite of everything he has done just because he has a D after his name it makes me want to just give up and move to New Hampshire where at least half the people are Republican. Where taxes are lower, employment is higher and the air doesn’t stink of radical leftists.

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