Taubman Center Public Opinion Survey

Caprio, Cicilline and Langevin lead R.I. races

October 5, 2010  |  Media Contact: Deborah Baum |  401-863-2476
Democratic State Treasurer Frank Caprio appears to be leading Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee in the race for Rhode Island 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 campaigns.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new Brown University survey of Rhode Island voters finds Democratic State Treasurer Frank Caprio has widened his lead over Independent candidate Lincoln Chafee in the race for governor.

The survey was conducted Sept. 27-29, 2010, by researchers at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown University. It is based on a statewide random sample of 565 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

If the general election were held today, 29.6 percent say they would vote for Caprio, while 23.4 percent support Chafee. Republican John Robitaille had support from 14.3 percent of those surveyed and Moderate Party candidate Kenneth Block had support from 1.8 percent. Caprio and Chafee were in a statistical tie just two months ago, according to an August 2010 Taubman Center poll.

A close look at the survey results reveals that among Democrats, support for Caprio is only slightly higher than support for Chafee. Forty-three percent of Democrats said they would vote for Caprio, while 40 percent said they would vote for Chafee, who is a former Republican. Respondents who identify as Independents are split between Caprio (37.7 percent) and Chafee (39.4 percent), while 40 percent of Republicans in the poll said they support Robitaille. About one-third of the voters said they were undecided. Among the undecided voters, nearly half (49.7 percent) are Independents, suggesting that Indpendent voters could play a decisive role in the gubernatorial race.

In other statewide races, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, a Democrat, is leading in her effort to win re-election. Roberts is supported by 35.8 percent of those surveyed. Her closest challenger, Independent candidate Robert Healey, is supported by 22.5 percent of the voters. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, a Democrat, is leading his Republican opponent, Catherine Terry Taylor, 39.1 percent to 28.3 percent. In the race to succeed outgoing State Attorney General Patrick Lynch, Democratic candidate Peter Kilmartin is supported by 25.8 percent of those surveyed. His nearest competitor, Republican Erik Wallin, has support from 13.5 percent of respondents. Democrat Gina Raimondo is leading the race for general treasurer over Republican candidate Kernan King, 37.9 percent to 19.8 percent. In all of these statewide races, more than one-third of respondents said they are still undecided.

In Rhode Island’s 1st District, Providence Mayor David Cicilline is leading in the race to succeed Patrick Kennedy as U.S. representative. If the general election were held today, 39.4 percent say they would support Democrat Cicilline, while 20.8 percent would vote for John Loughlin, a Republican. These results are based on the responses of the 289 registered voters who reside in the 1st congressional district, and the margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent.

Rep. James Langevin leads in his effort to win re-election in the state’s 2nd District congressional race. If the general election were held today, 46.7 percent would vote for Langevin, while his Republican opponent, Mark Zaccaria, is supported by 13.4 percent. These results are based on the responses of the 276 registered voters who reside in the 2nd congressional district, and the margin of error is plus or minus 6.1 percent.

President Obama’s approval rating among respondents was 44.1 percent. Fifty-five percent of Rhode Island voters rate the performance of Sen. Jack Reed as excellent or good, while 40.7 percent believe Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is doing an excellent or good job. Forty-eight percent say Langevin is doing an excellent or good job.

When asked about the job performance of state officials, 35 percent believe Roberts is doing an excellent or good job as lieutenant governor. Thirty-one percent feel Mollis is doing an excellent or good job as secretary of state. Almost 21 percent (20.9) believe Gordon Fox is doing an excellent or good job as House speaker, and 17.7 percent feel Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing an excellent or good job as Senate president.

Rhode Island's fiscal health appears to be a major concern for voters. The poll asked respondents about how the state might get back on the road of economic recovery. There is strong opposition to increasing the state income tax — 74.7 percent of respondents oppose doing so. A large marjority of voters — 73.3 percent — also oppose raising the state sales tax. The poll found strong support — 66.9 percent — for Gov. Donald Carcieri’s proposal to study the feasibility of consolidating or regionalizing some public services. About 43 percent of the respondents are opposed to laying off state workers, while 39.6 percent support state government layoffs as a way to bring about savings. However, 46.6 percent of those polled said they support adding furlough days without pay for public sector employees. A large majority — 64.1 percent of those surveyed — are also opposed to reducing state aid to towns and cities and an even larger majority — 74.7 percent — are opposed to state reductions in aid for local schools. A majority of respondents in the poll — 57.9 percent — supported the idea of having new public sector employees establish 401(k)-type retirement plans, rather than the traditional public employee pension plans. The voters are divided on whether to eliminate the cost of living adjustments in all state, municipal, and teachers’ pensions — 41.8 percent oppose and 40.2 percent support it.

A majority of voters — 59 percent of respondents — said that state government should rely on their own resources, not on additional money from the federal government, to balance their budgets. A slight majority — 51.6 percent of those surveyed — said they oppose the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s decision to grant retired Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling a $75-million loan guarantee to lure his video game company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island.

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

Questions and responses

  1. If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for: Independent Ronald Algieri 0.2%; Moderate Kenneth Block 1.8%; Democrat Frank Caprio 29.6%; Independent Lincoln Chafee 23.4%; Independent Todd Giroux 0.5%; Independent Joseph Lusi 0.7%; Republican John Robitaille 14.3%; DK/NA 29.5%
  2. If the election for Lieutenant Governor were held today, would you vote for: Independent Robert Healey 22.5%; Democrat Elizabeth Roberts 35.8%; Independent Robert Venturini 7.4%; DK/NA 34.3%
  3. If the election for Secretary of State were held today, would you vote for: Democrat Ralph Mollis 39.1%; Republican Catherine Terry Taylor 28.3%; DK/NA 32.6%
  4. If the election for Attorney General were held today, would you vote for: Democrat Peter Kilmartin 25.8%; Moderate Christopher Little 7.4%; Independent Keven Mckenna 10.3%; Independent Robert Rainville 1.8%; Republican Erik Wallin 13.5%; DK/NA 41.2%
  5. If the election for General Treasurer were held today, would you vote for: Republican Kernan King 19.8%; Democrat Gina Raimondo 37.9%; DK/NA 42.3%
  6. [Asked only of District 1 voters] If the election for Representative in Congress District 1 were held today, would you vote for: 2.8% Independent Kenneth Capalbo; 39.4% Democrat David Cicilline; 20.8% Republican John Loughlin or 6.2% Independent Gregory Raposa; 30.8% DK/NA [289 respondents; margin of error on this questiion is +/- 6.0%]
  7. [Asked only of District 2 voters] If the election for Representative in Congress District 2 were held today, would you vote for: 46.7% Democrat James Langevin; 6.2% Independent John Matson; or 13.4% Republican Mark Zaccaria; 33.7% DK/NA? [276 respondents; margin of error on this questiion is +/- 6.1%]
  8. How would you rate the job Barack Obama is doing as president? 11.3% excellent; 32.8% good; 26.9% only fair; 25.1% poor; 3.9% DK/NA
  9. How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. senator? 18.4% excellent; 36.8% good; 23.4% only fair; 13.6% poor; 7.8% DK/NA
  10. How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as U.S. senator? 11.2% excellent; 29.5% good; ; 28.1% only fair; 20.4% poor; 10.8% DK/NA
  11. How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as U.S. representative? 12.7% excellent; 35.9% good; 20.9% only fair; 15.8% poor; 14.7% DK/NA
  12. How would you rate the job Elizabeth Roberts is doing as lieutenant governor? 4.8% excellent; 30.4% good; 22.7% only fair; 17.0% poor; 25.1% DK/NA
  13. How would you rate the job Ralph Mollis is doing as secretary of state? 3.7% excellent; 27.6% good; 30.3% only fair; 12.4% poor; 26.0% DK/NA
  14. How would you rate the job Gordon Fox is doing as House speaker? 1.8% excellent; 19.1% good; 23.2% only fair; 24.6% poor; 31.3% DK/NA
  15. How would you rate the job Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing as Senate president? 3.9% excellent; 13.8% good; 22.3% only fair; 24.4% poor; 35.6% DK/NA
  16. The state faces a substantial deficit in its fiscal budget. By law, it is required to eliminate this deficit. Which of the following items would you support or oppose to close this deficit:
    a. Layoffs of state employees: Support 39.6%; Oppose 43.6%; Not sure 12.9%; DK/NA 3.9%
    b. Increase in the state income tax: Support 19.3%; Oppose 74.7%; Not sure 2.8%; DK/NA 3.2%
    c. Reduction of state aid to local communities: Support 22.1%; Oppose 64.1%; Not sure 9.7%; DK/NA 4.1%.
    d. Reducing state aid for local education: Support 15.9% ; Oppose 74.7%; Not sure 6.2%; DK/NA 3.2%
    e. Raising the capital gains tax: Support 43.8%; Oppose 40.5%; Not sure 9.9%; DK/NA 5.8%
    f. Changing the public employee work week from 35 to 40 hours: Support 64.6%; Oppose 20.2% Not sure 9.4%; DK/NA 5.8%
    g. Adding furlough days without pay for public employees: Support 46.6%; Oppose 38.4%; Not sure 9.0%; DK/NA 6.0%
    h. Raising income taxes on high-wage earners: Support 55.9%; Oppose 34.0%; Not sure 5.7%; DK/NA 4.4%
    i. Eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustments in all state, municipal and teacher pensions: Support 40.2%; Oppose 41.8%; Not sure 10.4%; DK/NA 7.6%
    j. Offer a “Defined Contribution” retirement plan similar to 401K for all new public employees: Support 57.9%; Oppose 21.1%; Not sure 14.0%; DK/NA 7.0%
    k. Eliminate school bus monitors: Support 31.0%; Oppose 56.8%; Not sure 6.0%; DK/NA 6.2%
    l. Raising the state sales tax: Support 18.9%; Oppose 73.3%; Not sure 3.9%; DK/NA 3.9%
  17. Governor Carcieri has proposed a high-powered commission to study the feasibility of consolidating or regionalizing public services like education, public safety, and other municipal services. The argument is that there is too much duplication of services among the state’s 39 municipalities. Do you support the idea of consolidating services? Yes 66.9%; No 17.2%; DK/NA 15.9%
  18. The board of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation approved a $75-million dollar loan guarantee to lure 38 Studios, a video-game company founded by retired Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Do you approve or disapprove of this action? Approve 26.3%; Disapprove 51.6%; DK/NA 22.1%
  19. As you may know, by law most states must balance their budgets, but many states are now unable to do so. In your opinion, which is the better way to address this problem: 25.4%: The federal government should give more money to the states to help them meet their budgets, even if it means higher federal deficits; 59.0%: The states should take care of this themselves, either by raising state taxes or cutting state services; 15.6% DK/NA
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