September 19, 2006

The Brown University September Poll is Out

Carroll Andrew Morse

The latest Brown University Poll of Rhode Island voters conducted by Darrell West and the Taubman Center for Public Policy has been released. Here are some results and some insta-analysis…

1. Probably the biggest surprise is the result on the casino amendment. At least according to Professor West, the Harrah’s/Narragansett Tribe strategy of saturation bombing via the airwaves is not working…

Question: Do you favor or oppose amending the state constitution to allow a gambling casino in West Warwick operated by Harrah’s in association with the Narragansett Indian Tribe?

  • Favor 36%
  • Oppose 55%
From responses to other questions asked, it appears as if people believe that a casino would bring economic benefits to the state, but are displeased with the no-bid insider deal that's being proposed. Save Our State and other anti-casino groups need to make sure that as many people as possible realize that they will be voting on a constitutional amendment for a no-bid casino, and not just on the general idea of whether the state should have a casino or not.

2. The numbers in the Governor’s race are starting to look like what people thought they would at this point…

  • Donald Carcieri 50%
  • Charles Fogarty 38%
Governor Carcieri is still polling well below his approval rating of 58%, which continues to be a good sign for him.

I know there are people with experience looking at polling numbers who disagree with me on this, but I still say what’s happening in this race is that cranky Rhode Island independents who were willing to consider voting for Charles Fogarty are becoming increasingly turned off by his general claim that he is a reformer on one hand, while he refuses to take a stand on any of the specific problems facing the state on the other. Here’s a recent example of that behavior from Charles Bakst of the Projo

Fogarty didn't rush to sign on when I suggested recently that lobbyists be banned from making political contributions. Carcieri liked the proposal -- as long as it includes labor lobbyists. (Fogarty is labor's favorite.)
3. A second Republican now has the lead in a statewide race, Sue Stenhouse over Ralph Mollis for Secretary of State…
  • Sue Stenhouse 35%
  • Ralph Mollis 30%
Elizabeth Roberts is barely ahead of Reginald Centracchio in the Lieutenant Governor’s race…
  • Reginald Centracchio 30%
  • Elizabeth Roberts 34%
  • Robert Healey 11%
I wonder if Healey could have been competitive if he had run for Senator this year. Speaking of which…

4. Lincoln Chafee and Sheldon Whitehouse are neck-and-neck in the race for U.S. Senate…

  • Lincoln Chafee 39%
  • Sheldon Whitehouse 40%
Not much of a change from the previous poll, but an incumbent running at 39% can’t be feeling too confident. On the other hand, the Chafee campaign may be figuring as long as they keep it close, the Republican turnout machine will save them.

5. Q: What do Rhode Island’s two political Patrick’s have in common? This wasn't a real poll question. However, the answer is...
A: Unlike Governor Carcieri or Senator Chafee, the job-approval ratings of Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Attorney General Patrick Lynch are significantly worse than their election poll numbers. Patrick Lynch leads 57%-24% over William Harsch, despite Lynch’s job-approval rating of only 51%. Patrick Kennedy leads Jon Scott 60%-25%, despite Kennedy’s dismal job approval rating of 43%. This means there are opportunities for the challengers to move up in these races, if they can get their messages out. (Also, do people belive that Patrick Kennedy is really as popular as James Langevin, who leads his opponent Rod Driver by a similar margin of 60%-19%?)

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A few thoughts--

Fogarty's problem is that his real "strength" is his ability to get things done with the Democrat General Assembly. Yet the polls are telling him that people are tired of insiders and incumbents. They want anti-corruption candidates instead. So Fogarty is trying to re-define himself along these lines, which just won't work. It reminds me of Chafee/Laffey when all of sudden Laffey cricized Chafee for being to close to Bush and called for Rumsfeld's resignation. People didn't buy it.

Despite being an incumbent, this mood fits Don Carcieri's profile to a tee. He will win despite running, what has been to date, a lackluster campaign.

Roberts-Reggie is about where you'd expect it to be. Reggie will have to run a strong campaign to compete, but the race is winnable.

The biggest surprise is the Stenhouse/Mollis race. This poll shows that Rhode Islanders just don't want ot vote for Mollis. If Sue has enough money, she will win. If not, we lose this seat unnecessarily.

Posted by: Anthony at September 19, 2006 4:05 PM

Comparing Langevin's huge margin over an independent to Kennedy's slimer margin over a Republican is vastly unfair to Patrick. The Lawless primary expresses just how much discontent Democrats have with Langevin. Jim Langevin is not a strong politician, he is not articulate or even passionate about his ideals. He simply wins because he has an inspiring story and Rhode Islanders have sympathy for him.

Patrick Kennedy while he excels due to his family name and money--is articulate and can be a passionate leader. Thus far--personal problems have prevented him in many ways but I would take Kennedy on a bad day to Langevin on any day in Congress.

It is interesting to point out that a cover story of the New York Times today dealt with Kennedy's recent problems.

Posted by: Ted at September 19, 2006 5:23 PM

I wish you would have expounded more on that, Ted. Why is it interesting that the NYT would devote prime space to a Kennedy? Was it hard hitting? The online teaser only references the fact that his sponsor is a Republican. So is it more than a "Breaking news: Chemical dependence is bipartisan" piece?
I don't patronize the Times - they do enough of that for all of us.

Posted by: rhodeymark at September 20, 2006 8:48 AM