September 13, 2005

The Most Recent Brown University Senate Preference Poll Says…

Carroll Andrew Morse

…either that the race is extremely unsettled or that Rhode Island hates everyone. According to the results of the September 10-11 poll every Senate candidate has lost support since June. Both Democratic and both Republican candidates have lost support in every hypothetical general election matchup asked about. Who says that politics is a zero sum game!

Lincoln Chafee did best by losing least. Whether facing Sheldon Whitehouse or Matt Brown, Chafee’s support declined by only 3 percentage points since June. Steve Laffey lost 7 points in a hypothetical matchup with Sheldon Whitehouse, 4 points in a matchup with Matt Brown. The Democrats’ loss of support was more dramatic. Both Whitehouse and Brown lost 10 to 11 points of support no matter who the hypothetical opponent was.

Given that the campaign has been a fairly low-profile fund raising and endorsement seeking affair so far, with no momentum changing individual gaffes or system-wide scandals, I am at a loss to explain why everyone has lost support since June. Anyone have any ideas?

Here’s the full results, arranged to highlight the field-wide loss off support.

Lincoln Chafee’s support versus…
…Matt Brown declined 3%, 44% to 41%.
…Sheldon Whitehouse declined 3%, 41% to 38%,

Steve Laffey’s support versus…
…Matt Brown declined 4%, 30% to 26%,
…Sheldon Whitehouse declined 7%, 32% to 25%.

Sheldon Whitehouse’s support versus…
…Steve Laffey declined 10%, 45% to 35%,
…Lincoln Chafee declined 11%, 36% to 25%.

Matt Brown’s support versus
…Steve Laffey declined 10%, 40% to 30%,
…Lincoln Chafee declined 11%, 29% to 18%.

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As predicted in my comments to the article below from earlier in the day, here is the Anchor Rising post about how the Brown poll means nothing. You guys are so predictable.

Posted by: Kip/Waiting at September 13, 2005 5:55 PM

A few months ago, Laffey was quoting the Projo survey as evidence of Chafee's weakness, now the new survey doesn't mean anything!?!

Why doesn't Laffey just be honest and say something like "I'm a city mayor and he's a United States Senator, of course I'm losing at the start."

This is one of the reasons so many Republicans have issues with Laffey. He takes the right positions on a number of topics, but he doesn't come across as trustworthy. RI is a small state and people see through that stuff.

Posted by: Anthony at September 13, 2005 6:32 PM

The fact that you consider a 10 point drop in support for the Democrats as meaning nothing doesn't do a whole lot for your yes-we-really-are-Republican bona fides.

And where has the Laffey campaign been quoted anywhere on the poll results?

Posted by: Andrew at September 13, 2005 6:45 PM

Kip, It strikes me that, other than a vague support for Chafee because he seems "sincere", you haven't really offered any other reason as to why you support him. Do you agree with specific policy positions? Or do you like that RI has a "voice" in nationwide politics with our "maverick" senator? I'm being sincere. It's easy to give reasons why you're against someone, but why are you "for" Chafee? Once that is established, then a real dialogue can begin as no one will assume anything. Thanks.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at September 13, 2005 7:55 PM

The big problem with the poll is that it surveys 449 "registered voters," NOT likely voters, NOT likely Republican primary voters, etc.

Given the small number of RI Republican primary voters relative to the total number of registered voters, this poll has very little meaning, even as a snap shot of how the primary would come out were it held today.

Also, if you look at the other numbers -- Chafee has a job performance positive number of 54%, but only gets 44% in the primary against Laffey. Those numbers make no sense when read together.

The other message of this poll is that even in a head-to-head between Chafee and Whitehouse, there is a very high undecided -- 37% !! This probably does not bode well for the incumbent in the general election, even if he survives a primary.

Posted by: brassband at September 13, 2005 9:10 PM

The "poll" is a joke. The sample size is too small, margin of error too large, it comes out of Brown, and it makes no differentiation between Republican and Democrat voters, when asking about preferences in the GOP primary, which is over a year from now.
I would be quite willing to state, that a poll of registered RI Republicans, with a sufficently large sample size, who are likely to vote, would tend to support Laffey far more than Chafee.
I will even further state, that when it comes time for Republicans to make a choice, that it won't even be close.
By the way, do you think that this poll's release on the same day as the RIGOP meeting is purely coincidental?
The main thing I get out of this poll, is not the lack of strong support for any candidate, but the fact that the incumbent Senator is polling under 50%.

Posted by: Will at September 14, 2005 12:12 AM