Taubman Center Public Opinion Survey

Caprio and Chafee tied for governor; Cicilline, Langevin lead in Democratic primaries

August 6, 2010  |  Media Contact: Deborah Baum |  401-863-2476
Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee and Democratic State Treasurer Frank Caprio are neck-and-neck in Rhode Island’s race for governor, with about one third of registered voters still undecided. Providence Mayor David Cicilline and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin have substantial leads in their 1st and 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary campaigns.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new Brown University survey of Rhode Island voters finds the race for governor is a statistical tie between Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee and Democratic State Treasurer Frank Caprio.

The survey was conducted July 27-30, 2010, by researchers at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown University. It is based on a statewide random sample of 702 registered Rhode Island voters. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

If the general election for governor were held today, 27.9 percent of people would vote for Caprio, and 26.5 percent would support Chafee. These numbers are within the margin of error, making the race between Caprio and Chafee a statistical tie. However, about more than 30 percent of voters are still undecided. Republicans John Robitaille and Victor Moffitt had 7 percent and 2 percent of support, respectively, while Moderate Party candidate Kenneth Block had support from 3 percent of respondents.

In the Democratic primary race for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, Providence Mayor David Cicilline is leading the race to replace Patrick Kennedy as U.S. representative. If the Democratic primary were held today, 32 percent say they would vote for Cicilline, 15 percent would support William Lynch, 11 percent would support Anthony Gemma, and 5 percent would support David Segal. Again, 35 percent of respondents are undecided in this race. (The margin of error for the 1st District Democratic primary is plus or minus 7.4 percent. The results are based on responses of the 174 people surveyed who said they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to vote in the primary and who reside in the 1st Congressional District).

Rep. Jim Langevin leads in his effort to win re-election in the state’s 2nd Congressional District race. If the Democratic primary were held today, 55 percent say they would vote for Langevin, while 12 percent would support Elizabeth Dennigan, and 1 percent would support Ernest Greco. Thirty percent of those polled were undecided. (The margin or error of the 2nd District Democratic primary is plus or minus 6.6 percent. The results are based on the responses of the 221 people surveyed who said they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to vote in the primary and who reside in the 2nd congressional district).

Economic stimulus

Some members of Congress believe another economic stimulus is needed to move the nation’s sluggish economy forward. The poll asked respondents their view of the effect of the economic stimulus adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2009. Nearly one and one-half years later, 49 percent of the respondents hold the view that the economic stimulus bill has not made a difference in the nation’s economy, 73 percent say the stimulus program has not made a difference in their personal financial situation, and 57 percent say the economic stimulus program has not made a difference in their local community.

A majority of respondents say they believe the economic stimulus spending helped state and local governments avoid layoffs and cuts. However, 76 percent of those surveyed say that stimulus spending increased federal budget deficit. Fifty-one percent say the federal government should make it a priority to bring down the deficit, while 33 percent think the federal government should prioritize spending more to help the nation’s economy.

Rhode Island voters are divided in their opinion of the way President Obama is handling the economy: 45.7 approve and 47.2 disapprove.

Approval ratings

President Obama’s approval rating among the respondents (i.e., those rating his job performance as “excellent” or “good”) is 42.8 percent, down from 44 percent in the Taubman Center’s February 2010 poll. Fifty-six percent of Rhode Island voters rate the performance of Sen. Jack Reed as “excellent” or “good,” while 42 percent approve of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s job performance. Thirty-four percent feel Kennedy is doing an “excellent” or “good” job and 54 percent give Langevin that rating.

On the state and local level, Gov. Donald Carcieri’s approval rating is 36 percent, while Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts has a 33 percent approval rating. Thirty-nine percent think Attorney General Patrick Lynch is doing an “excellent” or “good” job, 32 percent say Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is doing an “excellent” or “good” job, and 51 percent approved of Treasurer Frank Caprio Jr.’s job performance.

Cicilline received a 40-percent approval rating from respondents for his job as Providence’s mayor. Twenty percent believe House Speaker Gordon Fox is doing an “excellent” or “good” job and 21 percent feel Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing an “excellent” or “good” job.

Other issues

The poll also asked voters about the Central Falls school superintendent’s decision to fire every teacher at Central Falls High School after negotiations over school reform proposals broke down earlier this year. The poll asked respondents whether they thought the decision to fire the teachers was the “right thing to do” or the “wrong thing to do.” Sixty percent of those surveyed agreed with the decision to fire the teachers and 32 percent thought it was the wrong thing to do.

Findings also show that a majority — 57 percent — of Rhode Island voters believe the state is on the wrong track, down from 68 percent in Taubman’s February 2010 survey.

For more information, contact Marion Orr at (401) 863-9436.

Survey questions

  1. How likely are you to vote in this year’s Democratic primary? 42.8% very likely; 13.7% somewhat likely; 34% not very likely; 9.5% DY/NA (don’t know/no answer)
  2. [From 174 likely Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional District] If the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District were held today, would you vote for: 32.2% David Cicilline; 11.5% Anthony Gemma; 15.5% William Lynch; 5.7% David Segal; 35.1% DK/NA
  3. [From 221 likely Democratic voters in the 2nd Congressional District] If the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District were held today, would you vote for: 12.7% Elizabeth Dennigan; 1.3% Ernest Greco; 55.7% James Langevin; 30.3% DK/NA
  4. [From 395 likely Democratic voters] If the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor were held today, would you vote for: 17.5% Jeremy Kapstein; 49.4% Elizabeth Roberts; 33.1 DK/NA
  5. [From 395 likely Democratic voters] If the Democratic primary for secretary of state were held today, would you vote for: 34.7% Ralph Mollis; 14.9% Leonidas Raptakis; 50.4% DK/NA
  6. [From 395 likely Democratic voters] If the Democratic primary for attorney general were held today, would you vote for: 11.4% Stephen Archambault; 7.0 Joseph Fernandez; 21.3% Peter Kilmartin; 60.3% DK/NA
  7. [From the full sample] How likely are you to vote in this year’s Republican primary? 12.0% very likely; 5.6% somewhat likely; 42.3% not very likely; 40.1% DK/NA
  8. [From 58 likely Republican voters in the 1st Congressional District] If the Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District were held today, would you vote for: 41.4% John Loughlin; 15.5% Kara Russo; 43.1% DK/NA
  9. [From 65 likely Republican voters in the 2nd Congressional District] If the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District were held today, would you vote for: 7.7% William Clegg; 4.6% Michael Gardiner; 12.3% Donald Robbio; 9.2% Mark Zaccaria; 66.2% DK/NA
  10. [From 123 likely Republican voters] If the Republican primary for governor were held today, would you vote for: 14.6% Victor Moffitt; 45.6% John Robitaille; 39.8% DK/NA
  11. [From 123 likely Republican voters] If the Republican primary for lieutenant governor were held today, would you vote for: 3.3% Raymond Murray; 8.1% Heidi Rogers; 12.2% Kara Russo; 8.9% Robert Tingle; 67.5 % DK/NA
     
    [Remaining responses from full sample]
     
  12. If the election for governor were held today, would you vote for: 0.4% Ronald Algiere; 3.1% Kenneth Block; 27.9% Frank Caprio; 26.5% Lincoln Chafee; 0.1% Todd Giroux; 0.1% Joseph Lusi; 2.0% Victor Moffitt; 7.5% John Robitaille; 32.3% DK/NA
  13. How would you rate the job Barack Obama is doing as president? 14.1% excellent; 28.7% good; 29.8% only fair; 26.2% poor; 1.2% DK/NA
  14. How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. senator? 23.0% excellent; 33.6% good; 22.5% only fair; 15.9% poor; 5.0% DK/NA
  15. How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as U.S. senator? 10.9% excellent; 31.9% good; 25.4% only fair; 23.8% poor; 8.0% DK/NA
  16. How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. representative? 9.1% excellent; 25.1% good; 24.6% only fair; 31.6% poor; 9.6% DK/NA
  17. How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as U.S. representative? 14.6% excellent; 40.0% good; 21.9% only fair; 11.0% poor; 12.5% DK/NA
  18. How would you rate the job Don Carcieri is doing as governor? 9.3% excellent; 26.7% good; 28.1% only fair; 31.6% poor; 4.3% DK/NA
  19. How would you rate the job Elizabeth Roberts is doing as lieutenant governor? 4.6% excellent; 28.9% good; 27.9% only fair; 13.5% poor; 25.1% DK/NA
  20. How would you rate the job Patrick Lynch is doing as attorney general? 6.4% excellent; 32.8% good; 29.3% only fair; 20.7% poor; 10.8% DK/NA
  21. How would you rate the job Ralph Mollis is doing as secretary of state? 5.0% excellent; 27.6% good; 27.9% only fair; 9.3% poor; 30.2% DK/NA
  22. How would you rate the job Frank Caprio Jr. is doing as general treasurer? 10.6% excellent; 40.5% good; 21.3% only fair; 9.6% poor; 18.0% DK/NA
  23. How would you rate the job Gordon Fox is doing as House speaker? 1.9% excellent; 18.3% good; 21.8% only fair; 22.9% poor; 35.1% DK/NA
  24. How would you rate the job Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing as Senate president? 3.7% excellent; 17.7% good; 21.7% only fair; 21.3% poor; 35.6% DK/NA
  25. How would you rate the job David Cicilline is doing as mayor of Providence? 7.1% excellent 33.2% good 23.3% only fair 22.7% poor 13.7% DK/NA
  26. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? 45.7% approve; 47.2% disapprove; 7.1% DK/NA
  27. Would you describe the state of the nation’s economy these days as: 0.0% excellent; 7.0% good; 46.4% not so good; 46.0% poor; 0.6% DK/NA
  28. Would you describe the state of Rhode Island’s economy these days as: 0.4% excellent; 3.0% good; 28.2% not so good; 67.8% poor; 0.6% DK/NA
  29. Would you describe the state of your own personal finances these days as: 5.3% excellent; 50.4% good; 27.2% not so good; 14.7% poor; 2.4% DK/NA
  30. Do you personally know a friend or family member who recently lost their job? 70.1% yes; 27.8% no; 2.1% DK/NA
  31. Who do you think is most responsible for the current downturn in the U.S. economy: the Bush administration, big banks, Wall Street, the Obama administration, or did they all play a part? 22.9% Bush administration; 8.8% Big Banks; 5.6% Wall Street; 3.4% Obama administration; 55.4% all played a part; 3.8% DK/NA
  32. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has: 33.6% (helped) the national economy; 14.1% (hurt) the national economy; 49.1% hasn't made much difference; 3.1% DK/NA
  33. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has: 11.0% (helped) your personal financial situation; 13.7% (hurt) your personal financial situation; 73.6% hasn’t made much difference; 1.7% DK/NA
  34. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has: 22.4% (helped) your local community; 14.5% (hurt) your local community; 57.3% hasn’t made much difference; 5.8% DK/NA
  35. While traveling around, have you seen signs at construction sites, road and bridge repair, and other public works projects announcing funding from the economic stimulus program? 55.8% yes; 38.9% no; 5.3% DK/NA
  36. Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are: 20.1% going in the right direction; 57.0% gotten off on the wrong track; 16.5% mixed; 6.4% DK/NA
  37. Do you think the federal government should place a higher priority on: 33.9% spending more to help the recovery; 51.7% reducing the budget deficit; 14.4% DK/NA
  38. To stimulate the economy, what would be most effective now? 26.1% cutting taxes to individuals and businesses; 15.5% more spending such as on education, public-works, unemployment benefits; 32.3% both; 18.5% neither; 7.5% DK/NA
  39. Do you think the stimulus spending has increased the federal budget deficit? 76.5% yes; 11.7% no; 11.8% DK/NA
  40. Do you think the stimulus spending has improved roads and bridges in your area? 44.9% yes; 44.6% no; 10.5% DK/NA
  41. Do you think the stimulus spending has helped keep unemployment from getting even worse? 40.0% yes; 47.9% no; 12.1% DK/NA
  42. Do you think the stimulus spending has helped state and local governments avoid layoffs and cuts? 35.0% yes; 51.0% no; 14.0% DK/NA
  43. A few months ago, in an effort to reform the school system, the state commissioner of education asked the Central Falls school system to make changes. The superintendent of schools asked high school teachers to extend the school day 25 minutes, provide tutoring on a rotating basis and eat lunch with students once a week. The teachers union refused and in response the Central Falls superintendent fired all the high school teachers. After negotiations, the teachers agreed to the requested changes and were rehired. Do you think the decision to fire the teachers was: 60.8% the right thing to do; 32.3% the wrong thing to do; 6.8% DK/NA
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.