The News Service
Taubman Center for Public Policy
Survey: Kerry leads Bush in presidential general election among RI voters
A statewide survey of 455 Rhode Island voters conducted Feb. 7-9, 2004, finds Sen. John Kerry leading President George Bush 53 to 31 percent in a general presidential election. It also finds a big Kerry advantage in the Democratic nominating contest. Respondents also voiced strong support for a proposed commission on public integrity.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Massachusetts U.S. Sen. John Kerry holds a lead of 53 to 31 percent over President George W. Bush if the election were held today, according to a new public opinion survey by researchers at Brown University. Last September, Kerry held an advantage of 39 to 36 percent over Bush.
The survey was conducted Feb. 7-9, 2004, at Brown University by Darrell M. West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy and the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory. It was based on a statewide random sample of 455 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus five percentage points.
In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Kerry has a huge advantage over his opponents. Seventy percent of the 285 voters who say they plan to vote in the Democratic primary say they support Kerry, compared to 11 percent who favor former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, 9 percent who support U.S. Sen. John Edwards, 4 percent who favor retired Gen. Wesley Clark, 1 percent who favor the Rev. Al Sharpton, and 1 percent who support U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. In September 2003, Kerry, Dean and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman were locked in a tie at 17 percent, followed by U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (7 percent), former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (3 percent), Sharpton (2 percent), Edwards (1 percent), Kucinich (1 percent), and Bob Graham (0 percent).
Eighty-four percent of respondents support a proposal by Gov. Donald Carcieri to establish a Commission on Public Integrity that would investigate ethics in Rhode Island government. Seventy-six percent believe this commission should have the power to subpoena witnesses to testify before it. This commission was proposed by the governor in response to recent ethics controversies within state government.
Nearly half (47 percent) believe corruption in Rhode Island government is very common, 40 percent think it is somewhat common, 6 percent feel it is not very common, and 7 percent are unsure how common it is. When asked whether they think Rhode Island government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all the people, 64 percent believe it is run by a few big interests, 21 percent feel it is run for all the people, and 15 percent are unsure.
Voters are divided over whether the Rhode Island Ethics Commission needs to have a bigger budget. Thirty-two percent feel the commission needs a bigger budget, 31 percent believe it should be about the same size budget, 8 percent think it should be smaller, and 29 percent are unsure.
When asked about the job performance of various public officials, 63 percent feel Carcieri is doing a good job (up from 61 percent last September). Forty-two percent believe Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty is doing a good job (up from 36 percent). Forty-two percent think Attorney General Patrick Lynch is doing a good job, up from the 37 percent who felt that way in our last survey. Thirty percent feel Secretary of State Matt Brown is doing a good job, up from 29 percent. Thirty-seven percent believe Treasurer Paul Tavares is doing a good job, up from 35 percent last time. Sixty-four percent say Providence Mayor David Cicilline is doing a good job, down from 67 percent. Fifteen percent rate the job performance of newly elected Senate President Joseph Montelbano as good or excellent and 19 percent rate the performance of House Speaker William Murphy as good or excellent, the same as last September.
President George Bush’s support within the state has dropped. In this month’s survey, 36 percent feel he is going a good or excellent job, down from 42 percent who rated his job performance good or excellent in September. Sixty-four percent rate the performance of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed good or excellent, up from 62 percent in the previous survey. Fifty-two percent believe U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is doing a good job, up from 50 percent. Fifty-six percent feel U.S. Rep. James Langevin is doing a good job (the same as last time) and 45 percent believe U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is doing a good job (up from 37 percent approval in September).
Sixty-four percent believe the state is headed in the right direction, while 24 percent feel it is off on the wrong track. Last September, 51 percent believed the state was headed in the right direction and 29 percent stated that the state was headed off on the wrong track.
The Index of Consumer Sentiment for Rhode Island this month was 88.0 percent, up from 82.1 last September. This means consumer optimism has risen significantly over the last few months. The index is modeled after five questions from a national index developed at the University of Michigan and is used to determine over time how optimistic people are.
For more information, contact Darrell M. West at (401) 863-1163. A copy of the press release outlining survey results can be found at www.InsidePolitics.org.
Survey Questions and Responses
If the presidential general election were held today, would you vote for: 31% Republican George W. Bush, 53% Democrat John Kerry, 16% don’t know or no answer
For the 285 voters who say they are likely to vote in the Democratic primary: If the primary were held today, would you vote for: 4% Wesley Clark, 11% Howard Dean, 9% John Edwards, 70% John Kerry, 1% Dennis Kucinich, 1% Al Sharpton, 4% don’t know or no answer
We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are: 38% better off, 35% worse off financially than you were a year ago, 27% don’t know or no answer
Now looking ahead – do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be: 33% better off financially, 8% worse off, 49% just about the same as now, 10% don’t know or no answer
Now turning to business conditions in the state as a whole – do you think that during the next twelve months we’ll have: 42% good times financially, 31% bad times, 27% don’t know or no answer
Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely – that in the state as a whole: 39% we’ll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, 37% that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what, 24% don’t know or no answer
About the big things people buy for their homes – such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a: 59% good, 19% bad time for people to buy major household items, 22% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job George W. Bush is doing as president? 7% excellent, 29% good, 33% only fair, 30% poor, 1% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. senator? 14% excellent, 50% good, 21% only fair, 4% poor, 11% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Lincoln Chafee is doing as U.S. senator? 12% excellent, 40% good 27% only fair, 11% poor, 10% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. representative? 7% excellent, 38% good, 28% only fair, 18% poor, 9% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as U.S. representative? 10% excellent, 46% good, 19% only fair, 4% poor, 21% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Don Carcieri is doing as governor? 22% excellent, 41% good, 21% only fair, 9% poor, 7% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Charles Fogarty is doing as lieutenant governor? 7% excellent, 35% good, 20% only fair, 3% poor, 35% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Patrick Lynch is doing as attorney general? 8% excellent, 34% good, 31% only fair, 12% poor, 15% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Matt Brown is doing as secretary of state? 4% excellent, 26% good, 23% only fair, 2% poor, 45% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Paul Tavares is doing as general treasurer? 6% excellent, 31% good, 23% only fair, 2% poor, 38% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job Joseph Montelbano is doing as Senate president? 1% excellent, 14% good, 18% only fair, 6% poor, 61% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job William Murphy is doing as speaker of the House? 1% excellent, 18% good, 23% only fair, 9% poor, 49% don’t know or no answer
How would you rate the job David Cicilline is doing as mayor of Providence? 20% excellent, 44% good, 18% only fair, 6% poor, 12% don’t know or no answer
Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track? 64% right direction, 24% wrong track, 12% don’t know or no answer
There has been a proposal to establish a Commission on Public Integrity that would investigate the subject of ethics in Rhode Island government. Do you: 84% favor, 9% oppose the creation of this commission, 7% don’t know or no answer
Do you think this commission should have the power to subpoena witnesses to testify before it? 76% yes, 12% no, 12% don’t know or no answer
Do you think the Rhode Island Ethics Commission needs to have: 32% a bigger budget, 31% about the same size budget, 8% a smaller budget to enforce ethics in Rhode Island government, 29% don’t know or no answer
Would you say Rhode Island government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all the people? 64% few big interests, 21% all the people, 15% don’t know or no answer
How common do you think corruption is in Rhode Island government? 47% very common, 40% somewhat common, 6% not very common, 7% don’t know or no answer