Taubman Center Survey

R.I. supports Obama’s contraception policy

February 23, 2012  |  Media Contact: Deborah Baum |  401-863-2476
A new statewide public opinion survey conducted by the Taubman Center at Brown University finds that the majority of voters in Rhode Island, one of the nation’s most Catholic states, supports the Obama administration’s new policy to offer contraception services to women who work for religiously affiliated organizations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A Brown University survey of Rhode Island’s registered voters finds that President Obama’s decision to address public concerns about the role of religious organizations in providing contraceptive services under the Affordable Health Care Act has been favorably received by Rhode Islanders. Obama’s revised contraceptive policy requires a woman’s insurance company to offer contraceptive care directly to a subscriber if her religious employer objects to providing these services as part of its health plan.

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 514 of Rhode Island’s registered voters on Feb. 16-18, 2012. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Under the Obama administration’s previous policy, churches were exempt from providing contraceptive services to women, but religiously affiliated organizations including hospitals, charities, and universities were required to provide contraceptive services as part of their health plan. Rhode Islanders were split on this old policy, with 47.5 percent approving and 47.0 percent opposing. Women support the old policy (54.5 percent) but men oppose it in nearly equal numbers (56.3 percent). Support for the original policy is strongest among voters ages 18 to 44 (64.6 percent) while the majority of voters age 65 and over oppose the policy (58.9 percent).

Rhode Islanders show significantly more support for the revised policy, which requires insurers to step in and offer contraceptive services directly to women if religious institutions object to providing those services (56.8 percent approve). Again, women have a much higher approval rate (65.7 percent) than men, who are split on the new policy (46.7 percent oppose/45.4 approve). A large majority of voters ages 18 to 44 supports the new policy (74.5 percent) with those age 65 and over split (47.0 percent approve/46.1 percent oppose).

The economy

An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders rated the national economy not so good or poor (88.5 percent), a number that mirrors national polls about the economy. Almost all Rhode Islanders (95.5 percent) rated their own state’s economy not so good or poor. However, 59 percent of respondents rated their personal finances as good or excellent.

Balancing the state budget

The Taubman survey suggests that Rhode Island voters oppose most of Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s proposals to raise additional state revenues to help balance the budget. They are against a $30 increase in driver’s license and biannual registration fees (67.5 percent oppose) as well as tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge (57.0 percent oppose). A strong majority (80.3 percent) opposes an increased tax on restaurant meals and beverages from the current seven percent to ten percent. However, most respondents support the modest four-cent tax hike on a pack of cigarettes (71.0 percent approve).

The poll indicates that Rhode Islanders do not agree with most of Chafee’s proposed spending cuts. A majority (53.7 percent) opposes cutting the annual $522,674 in aid to the state-run public television station Channel 36 and a strong majority (64.2 percent) did not want to increase the co-pays that low-income families pay for subsidized childcare, a cut that would save the state an estimated $275,000 per year.

Almost half of voters agree with ending state-subsidized dental care for low-income Rhode Islanders over the age of 21 (49.6 support/42.8 oppose), which would save the state an estimated $2.7 million per year.

Approval ratings changes since December

Chafee’s approval rating has dropped. Only 22.1 of voters rate his performance excellent or good, down from 27.4 percent in a December 2011 Taubman Center poll and 32.3 percent in a March 2011 poll. Rep. David Cicilline’s job approval numbers plummeted to 14.8 percent of voters rating his performance excellent or good, down from 24.3 in December 2011.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s approval rating has risen to 57.7 percent from 52.0 percent in December 2011. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras also has stronger job approval ratings (59.8 percent versus 51.7 percent in December 2011).

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

Questions and answers

  1. How would you rate the job Barack Obama is doing as president? excellent 13.8%; good 26.1%; only fair 30.4%; poor 28.2%; DK/NA 1.5%.
  2. How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. senator? excellent 15.4%; good 31.2%; only fair 28.2%; poor 16.3%; DK/NA 8.9%.
  3. How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as U.S. senator? excellent 7.0%; good 22.6%; only fair 30.2%; poor 28.8%; DK/NA 11.4%.
  4. How would you rate the job David Cicilline is doing as U.S. representative? excellent 1.8%; good 13.0%; only fair 24.3%; poor 43.2%; DK/NA 17.7%.
  5. How would you rate the job Jim Langevin  is doing as U.S. representative? excellent 9.9%; good 37.5%; only fair 30.2%; poor 11.5%; DK/NA 10.9%.
  6. How would you rate the job Lincoln Chafee is doing as governor? excellent 5.6%; good 16.5%; only fair 28.4%; poor 45.2%; DK/NA 4.3%.
  7. How would you rate the job Elizabeth Roberts is doing as lieutenant governor? excellent 5.8%; good 26.3%; only fair 29.0 poor 14.0%; DK/NA 24.9%.
  8. How would you rate the job Peter Kilmartin is doing as attorney general? excellent 2.9%; good 30.2%; only fair 27.8%; poor 5.8%; DK/NA 33.3%.
  9. How would you rate the job A. Ralph Mollis is doing as secretary of state? excellent 3.5%; good 25.3%; only fair 32.5%; poor 8.0%; DK/NA 30.7%.
  10. How would you rate the job Gina Raimondo is doing as general treasurer? excellent 34.4%; good 23.3%; only fair 16.0%; poor 8.9%; DK/NA 17.4%.
  11. How would you rate the job Gordon Fox is doing as House speaker? excellent 3.7%; good 22.4%; only fair 28.0%; poor 17.3%; DK/NA 28.6%.
  12. How would you rate the job Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing as Senate president? excellent 3.3%; good 17.9%; only fair 24.9%; poor 18.5%; DK/NA 35.4%.
  13. How would you rate the job Angel Taveras is doing as mayor of Providence? excellent 18.7%; good 41.1%; only fair 21.4%; poor 6.6%; DK/NA 12.2%.
  14. Changing topics, would you describe the state of the nation's economy these days as - excellent 0.0%; good 10.7%; not so good 49.9%; poor 38.6%; DK/NA 0.8%;
  15. Would you describe the state of Rhode Island’s economy these days as excellent 0.0%; good 3.3%; not so good 30.4%; poor 65.1%; DK/NA 1.2%;
  16. Would you describe the state of your own personal finances these days as excellent 6.1%; good 52.9%; not so good 28.7%; poor 10.7%; DK/NA 1.6%;
  17. Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction? right direction 18.9%; off on wrong track 62.9%; mixed 15.6%; DK/NA 2.6%.
  18. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? approve 46.3%; disapprove 46.7%; DK/NA 7.0%;
  19. Recently the R.I. State Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation redesigning the state pension system. Do you think the state is responsible for developing a uniform plan to fix the many independent municipal pension plans in Rhode Island? yes 55.5%; no 32.0%; DK/NA 12.5%
  20. Governor Chafee has proposed a series of tax increases and spending cuts to balance the RI state budget. Please tell us whether you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose the following revenue increases.
    1. Accelerate a $30-increase in drivers' license and biannual registration fees? strongly support 1.8%; support 27.6%; oppose 46.3%; strongly oppose 21.2%; DK/NA 3.1%.
    2. Allow tolls on the new Sakonnet River Bridge? strongly support 2.9%; support 31.5%; oppose 39.7%; strongly oppose 17.3%; DK/NA 8.6%.
    3. Increase taxes on cigarettes to $3.50 per pack, up from the current $3.46? strongly support 23.2%; support 47.9%; oppose 15.8%; strongly oppose 8.8%; DK/NA 4.3%.
    4. Extend 5-percent hotel tax to bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals? strongly support 4.9%; support 33.7%; oppose 41.1%; strongly oppose 15.0%; DK/NA 5.3%.
    5. Increase the tax on restaurant meals and beverages to 10 percent, up from the current 7%? strongly support 1.0%; support 17.1%; oppose 45.5%; strongly oppose 34.8%; DK/NA 1.6%.
  21. Please tell us whether you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose the following proposed spending cuts:
    1. An across the-board 4.1-percent decrease in reimbursements to United HealthCare and Neighborhood Health Plan to save and estimated $14 million? strongly support 2.7%; support 30.9%; oppose 38.5%; strongly oppose 9.7%; DK/NA 18.2%.
    2. Eliminating state-subsided dental care for those over the age of 21, to save an estimated $2.7 million? strongly support 4.9%; support 44.7%; oppose 34.2%; strongly oppose 8.6%; DK/NA 7.6%.
    3. Ending the state subsidy to Channel 36 to save an estimated $522,674? strongly support 4.5%; support 34.0%; oppose 44.6%; strongly oppose 9.1%; DK/NA 7.8%.
    4. Increasing co-pays low-income families pay for subsidized child-care to save and estimated $275,000? strongly support 1.9%; support 28.8%; oppose 50.4%; strongly oppose 13.8%; DK/NA 5.1%.
  22. The Obama administration recently announced its decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans. Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this plan? strongly support 17.7%%; support 29.8%; oppose 23.7%; strongly oppose 23.3%; DK/NA 5.5%.
  23. The Obama administration has modified its original proposal and now requires that “Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers’ insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.” Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this proposal? strongly support 12.1%; support 44.7%; oppose 18.7%; strongly oppose 17.3%; DK/NA 7.2%.

Additional analysis by gender and age

The Obama administration recently announced its decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans. Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this plan?

 
Gender

Male
Female
Total

strongly
support

13.1%
20.9%
17.7%

 
support

24.4%
33.6%
29.8%

 
oppose

26.3%
21.9%
23.7%

strongly
oppose

30.0%
18.6%
23.3%

 
DK/NA

6.2%
5.0%
5.5%

 
Total

100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

The Obama administration has modified its original proposal and now requires that: “Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.” Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this plan?

 
Gender

Male
Female
Total

strongly
support

7.9%
15.4%
12.1%

 
support

37.5%
50.3%
44.7%

 
oppose

23.0%
15.4%
18.7%

strongly
oppose

23.7%
12.3%
17.3%

 
DK/NA

7.9%
6.6%
7.2%

 
Total

100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

The Obama administration recently announced its decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans. Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this plan?

 
Age

18-44
45-64
65 and over
Total

strongly
support

22.8%
19.8%
12.5%
17.8%

 
support

41.8%
29.7%
23.2%
29.4%

 
oppose

11.4%
21.3%
33.9%
23.9%

strongly
oppose

12.7%
25.9%
25.0%
23.5%

 
DK/NA

11.3%
3.3%
5.4%
5.4%

 
Total

100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

The Obama administration has modified its original proposal and now requires that : “Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception” Do you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose this plan?

 
Age

18-44
45-64
65 and over
Total

strongly
support

19.6%
12.4%
8.5%
12.2%

 
support

54.9%
46.3%
38.5%
44.9%

 
oppose

9.8%
15.3%
28.2%
18.8%

strongly
oppose

7.8%
19.8%
17.9%
17.4%

 
DK/NA

7.9%
6.2%
6.9%
6.7%

 
Total

100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

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.