February 29, 2012

It's (Not) the Economy, Stupid!

Patrick Laverty

With all due respect to Governor Chafee and to the position of RI Governor, the title of this post is in reference to a 1992 Clinton presidential campaign theme first coined by James Carville. However, I found it surprising, if not laughable that the Governor attributes his low approval ratings to the current economy.

Chafee said he thinks he is suffering in the polls because he is the governor and people are looking to blame someone. “Anytime the economy is bad the governor is going to be the lightening rod and that is just the way it is.”
Just like Cicilline doesn't seem to get it that his race is more than just about what he (not) done in Washington for the last two years, Chafee doesn't get the reasons either. Sure, it's very easy to blame the economy for the Governor's low poll numbers. On the surface, that might even make sense. But let's drill down a little further. As bad as the state is doing as a whole, is there anyone doing worse? Aha! There's this little town that most might have heard of called "Providence". Providence sure isn't looking too good lately on many economic scales. Something about "bankruptcy" as a possibility. If the economy is the cause of low approval ratings, let's take a look at the Providence chief executive and what his poll numbers are. A 59.8% approval rating for Mayor Angel Taveras. One of the highest in the state.

So, maybe it isn't the economy and maybe it actually is due to policy decisions like trying to increase taxes by taxing nearly everything? Plus then trying to raise the meals tax by 25%? Or maybe it is because Chafee courted union support before his election and then had the same unions claiming he broke a promise to them when he signed the pension reform bill.

Maybe it's time for the Governor to look in the mirror and realize who is the reason for his low approval numbers. Part of the reason that both Taveras and Gina Raimondo have such relatively high approval numbers is because while they might not be making popular decisions, they are making decisions that are necessary for the state and city to survive and have any chance at flourishing again. People respect that.