City poll: Providence voters pessimistic on economy

November 21, 2013

A new poll conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University finds that while most Providence voters remain pessimistic about the local economy, the percentage of voters who think Providence is on the “right track” has risen 10 percentage points in the last year. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras continues to enjoy broad approval among Providence voters.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new public opinion survey by Brown University researchers finds that most voters’ views of the Providence economy remain bleak, but a growing number of voters rate the local economy excellent or good: 26.3 percent compared to 16.5 percent a year ago. More voters also feel that Providence is on the “right track” — 48.8 percent compared to 38.4 percent in a September 2012 survey.

Researchers at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown University surveyed a random sample of 465 Providence voters Nov. 13–16, 2013. The poll has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Providence voters were divided when asked about their opinion of the city’s economy and jobs outlook for the next five years. Twenty-nine percent felt there would be “continuous good times,” 43.5 percent predicted there would be “widespread unemployment,” and 27.5 percent declined to predict what would happen. When voters were asked to make predictions about their own family’s finances in the coming year, 37.0 percent felt they would be better off, 8.4 percent felt they would be worse off, and 39.4 percent felt they would be about the same.

Mayor Angel Taveras’ favorable approval ratings are virtually unchanged over last year, with 59.1 percent of city voters rating his performance excellent or good compared to 60.0 percent last year. His approval ratings were comparable across race and gender lines, including Caucasians (59.6 percent), African-Americans (64.7 percent), and Hispanics (58.2 percent), women (60.3 percent) and men (57.9 percent).

Providence voters continue to show approval for most city services, including garbage collection (80.9 percent), police (61.9 percent) and fire and ambulance services (84.1) percent. Voters reported much greater satisfaction with upkeep of city roads — 60.3 percent are satisfied or very satisfied — from just 31.6 percent reporting satisfaction a year ago.

Among city services asked about in the poll, residents continue to be least happy with their neighborhood public schools, although their approval of public schools grew from 36.2 percent a year ago to 47.4 percent in this recent survey. Satisfaction levels for city parks declined from 71.1 percent a year ago to 58.2 percent today.

For more information, contact Marion Orr at 401-863-9436.

Questions and answers

  1. How would you rate the job Angel Taveras is doing as mayor of Providence?  Excellent 13.7%; Good 45.4%; Only Fair 29.8%; Poor 9.9%; Don’t Know/No Answer 1.2%
  2. How would you rate the job Barack Obama is doing as president?  Excellent 13.7%; Good 41.1%; Only Fair 27.8%; Poor 14.6%; DK/NA 2.8%
  3. Would you describe the state of Providence’s economy these days as excellent, good, not so good, or poor?  Excellent 0.9%; Good 25.4%; Not so Good 44.9%; Poor 26.9%; DK/NA 1.9%
  4. Generally speaking, would you say things in Providence are going in the right direction or have they gotten off on the wrong track?  Right Direction 48.8%; Off on Wrong Track 30.5%; Mixed 12.3%; DK/NA 8.4%
  5. Now looking ahead — do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be:  Better Off Financially 37.0%; Worse Off Financially 8.4%; About the same 39.4%; DK/NA 15.2%
  6. Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely — that in the city as a whole during the next five years or so we’ll have:  Continuous Good Times 29.0%; Widespread Unemployment 43.5%; DK/NA 27.5%
  7. For each of the following services in Providence, are you very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

a. Garbage collection in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 16.5%; Satisfied 64.4%; Neither 4.7%; Dissatisfied 8.4%; Very Dissatisfied 3.4%; DK/NA 2.6%
b. Bus service:  Very Satisfied 7.7%; Satisfied 48.6%; Neither 9.5%; Dissatisfied 9.9%; Very Dissatisfied 1.3%; DK/NA 23.0%
c. Public schools in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 4.7%; Satisfied 42.7%; Neither 10.9%; Dissatisfied 17.0%; Very Dissatisfied 6.9%; DK/NA 17.8%
d. Police in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 9.9%; Satisfied 52.0%; Neither 10.5%; Dissatisfied 19.4%; Very Dissatisfied 4.5%; DK/NA 3.7%
e. Fire and ambulance service in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 18.1%; Satisfied 66.0%; Neither 5.6%; Dissatisfied 3.7%; Very Dissatisfied 1.2%; DK/NA 5.4%
f. Upkeep of roads in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 13.5%; Satisfied 46.8%; Neither 6.0%; Dissatisfied 22.7%; Very Dissatisfied 8.8%; DK/NA 2.2%
g. Parks in your neighborhood:  Very Satisfied 36.3%; Satisfied 21.9%; Neither 28.8%; Dissatisfied 3.0%; Very Dissatisfied 2.1%; DK/NA 7.9%

Marion Orr, Jack Combs