PROVIDENCE – Whether he runs as an Independent or a Democrat, and no matter which opponents he runs against, it looks like Gov. Lincoln Chafee is going to have a hard time keeping his job after the 2014 election.
Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic-leaning national polling organization that surveyed Rhode Islanders last week, stated it starkly when they released their polling results Thursday: “Lincoln Chafee's prospects for a second term as governor of Rhode Island are looking pretty dim.”
The front-runner of all gubernatorial candidates, PPP said, is General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who leads not only the Democratic primary race, but in every general election scenario they tested her in. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has higher personal approval, but Raimondo bests everybody in election contests.
In an automated telephone survey of 614 Rhode Island voters – including 320 Democratic primary voters – conducted January 28-30, PPP found that only one-third approve of the job Chafee is doing while 59 percent disapprove. The company, which does its own polling that isn’t paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization, says the only governor in the nation with lower approval ratings is Pat Quinn of Illinois.
The approval/disapproval rates for other candidates are: Taveras, 63/21; Raimondo, 57/21; Fung, 55/14; Doherty, 45/32 and Block 21/24.
PPP did not give an approval rating for former Auditor General Ernest Almonte, who is already a declared Democratic candidate, but it did list him in some election scenarios.
A whopping 57 percent of voters told the pollsters they don't want Chafee to seek reelection next year at all. Twenty percent want him to run as an independent and 18 percent think he should run for election again as a Democrat. Chafee -- once a Republican, now an Independent, has said publicly he is mulling the idea of seeking re-election as a Democrat.
Running as an Independent, the poll found that Chafee would come in third whether the Democrat was General Treasurer Gina Raimondo or Providence Mayor Angel Taveras or the Republican was Cranston Mayor Alan Fung or former State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty.
Moderate Party founder Ken Block came in fourth place in every one of the scenarios PPP tested.
Running as a Democrat, Chafee would lose to both Doherty (39-35 percent) and Fung (36-32 percent).
Here are some of the four-way races PPP tested:
• Independent Chafee, 20 percent; Republican Fung, 26 percent; Democrat Taveras, 26 percent; Moderate Block, 13 percent, and not sure, 14 percent
• Independent Chafee, 21 percent; Republican Fung, 23 percent; Democrat Raimondo, 35 percent; Moderate Block, 10 percent, and not sure, 12 percent.
• Independent Chafee, 23 percent; Republican Doherty, 31 percent; Democrat Taveras, 26 percent; Moderate Block, 10 percent, not sure, 10 percent.
• Independent Chafee, 22 percent; Republican Doherty, 28 percent; Democrat Raimondo, 32 percent, not sure, 9 percent.
In three-way races with Chafee as a Democrat, he fares not much better:
• Democrat Chafee, 35 percent; Republican Doherty, 39 percent; Moderate Block, 13 percent and not sure, 14 percent.
• Democrat Chafee, 32 percent; Republican Fung, 36 percent; Moderate Block, 16 percent, and not sure 15 percent.
Without Chafee in the race at all, the lead goes to the Democrats:
• Democrat Raimondo, 44 percent; Republican Doherty, 32 percent; Moderate Block, 10 percent and not sure, 14 percent.
• Democrat Raimondo, 46 percent; Republican Fung, 27 percent; Moderate Block, 12 percent, and not sure, 14 percent.
• Democrat Angel Taveras, 39 percent; Republican Doherty, 35 percent; Moderate Block, 13 percent, and not sure, 13 percent.
• Democrat Taveras, 37 percent; Republican Fung, 31 percent; Moderate Block, 15 percent, and not sure 17 percent.
Among Democratic primary voters only, Raimondo has the clear lead and Chafee is not particularly welcome to join the party:
With Chafee in the race, PPP found that a Democratic primary would shake out like this:
• Chafee 22 percent; Raimondo, 35 percent; Tavares, 19 percent; Almonte, 11 percent, someone else/not sure, 12 percent.
• Raimondo, 44 percent; Taveras, 35 percent; Almonte, 9 percent, and someone else/not sure, 13 percent.
The poll also found that 57 percent of Rhode Islanders favor legalizing gay marriage while 36 percent oppose it. That is 12 percent higher support for gay marriage in the Ocean State than PPP found in a February, 2011 poll.
In another question, 40 percent said they support holding a constitutional convention while 25 percent oppose the idea and 35 percent aren’t sure. There will be a question on the 2014 ballot asking whether a convention should be held.
The margin of error for the overall sample is plus or minus 4 percent and plus or minus 5.5 percent for the Democratic portion.