Providence City Survey, September 1999

Brown University Survey Shows Vice President Gore in Virtual Tie with Bradley and Bush (posted Sept. 29, 1999)

A survey of 363 Rhode Island voters conducted September 25-27 also finds a close race for U.S. Senate, high marks for Mayor Cianci, and a drop in consumer confidence about the state economy. Voters cite education, jobs, and taxes as the most important state problems.

Vice President Al Gore is virtually tied with Democratic primary challenger Bill Bradley, according to a new Brown University statewide survey. The poll also shows the vice president in a tight presidential general election with Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The survey was conducted September 25-27, 1999 at Brown University by Darrell M. West, professor of political science and director of the John Hazen White, Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory, Thomas J. Anton, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions, and Jack Combs, the Center's research administrator. It was based on a statewide random sample of 363 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, it had a margin of error of about plus or minus five percentage points.

In the Democratic presidential nomination battle, 37 percent of voters say they support Gore, while 36 percent favor Bradley, with 27 percent undecided. As shown below, Gore runs stronger among Democrats, while Bradley does better with Independents.

Gore Bradley
Independent 32% 38%
Democratic 46 36

In the presidential general election matchup, Gore garners support from 34 percent compared to 32 percent who say they will vote for Bush with 34 percent unsure. If Bradley is the Democratic nominee, he leads Bush by 37 to 26 percent, with 37 percent undecided.

Bush Gore Bush Bradley
Republican 81% 12% 65% 17%
Independent 35 25 28 33
Democratic 11 61 10 57

In the contest for U.S. Senate, Weygand is in a dead heat with Warwick Mayor Lincoln Chafee at 27 percent, while possible independent candidate Arlene Violet garners 24 percent, and 22 percent are unsure. In June, 29 percent of voters supported Weygand, 24 percent favored Violet, 21 percent supported Chafee, and 26 percent were undecided. In the September survey, Violet received support from 27 percent of Republican voters, 32 percent of those identifying themselves as Independents, and 18 percent of voters considering themselves Democrats.

Chafee Weygand Violet
Republican 44% 13% 27%
Independent 26 24 32
Democratic 18 45 18

If Richard Licht is the Democratic candidate, 32 percent say they would vote for Chafee, 30 percent indicate they favor Violet, 17 percent support Licht, and 21 percent are unsure. In June, Violet garnered support from 28 percent, 28 percent favored Chafee, 18 percent said they would vote for Licht, and 26 percent were undecided.

Chafee Licht Violet
Republican 48% 4% 35%
Independent 33 10 36
Democratic 25 36 25

Providence Mayor Cianci continues to earn the most favorable job ratings in the state. Seventy-five percent say he is doing an excellent or good job as mayor, compared to 69 percent who felt that way in June.

In other job performance ratings, President Bill Clinton earns excellent or good ratings from 60 percent of Rhode Island voters, down from 65 percent in June.

Governor Almond's job performance ratings are down slightly from what they were previously. Forty-eight percent give him excellent or good ratings, 30 percent rate him only fair, 12 percent rate him poor, and 10 percent have no opinion. In our earlier survey, 52 percent felt his performance had been excellent or good, 29 percent believed it has been only fair, 10 percent rate him poor, and 9 percent had no opinion.

Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty is rated excellent or good job by 21 percent (compared to 29 percent in June), while 44 percent rate Attorney-General Sheldon Whitehouse positively (the same as in June), and 32 percent believe Treasurer Paul Tavares is doing an excellent or good job (identical to before). Forty-seven percent feel Secretary of State Jim Langevin's performance has been excellent or good, down from 54 in the last survey.

In regard to federal officials, 63 percent believe Senator John Chafee is doing an excellent or good job (down from 67 percent). These numbers compare to 57 percent for Senator Jack Reed (down from 64 percent), 51 percent for Congressman Patrick Kennedy (down from 55 percent), and 46 percent for Congressman Robert Weygand (down from 53 percent).

We asked people what they thought the most important problem was facing the state. Seventeen percent named education, followed by jobs and unemployment (11%), taxes (7%), ethics and corruption (6%), business climate (6%), politicians and government performance (5%), crime (4%), roads (3%), health care (3%), the environment (3%), the economy (3%), budget (2%), drugs (2%), violence (2%), and poverty (2%). All other problems named were under 1%

Seventy-three percent believe the state is head in the right direction, while 15 believe it is off on the wrong track. In June, 67 percent believed the state was headed in the right direction, while 18 percent thought it was off on the wrong track.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment for Rhode Island this month also has fallen from its reading of 101.2 in June and 106.3 in January. The current reading for September is 99.2, meaning Rhode Islanders are about 7 percent less optimistic about the economy since the beginning of the year. This is the first time the Index has dropped below 100 since 1997. The Index is modeled after five questions from the national Index developed at the University of Michigan, and is used to determine over time how optimistic or pessimistic people are feeling in relation to the base period of 1966, when the Index stood at 100. The higher the reading, the more optimistic consumers are.

Survey Questions and Responses

If the election for president were held today, would you vote for the Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore? 32% Bush, 34% Gore, 34% don't know or no answer

If the election for president were held today, would you vote for the Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Bill Bradley? 26% Bush, 37% Bradley, 37% don't know or no answer

If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, would you vote for the Republican Lincoln Chafee, Democrat Robert Weygand, or Independent candidate Arlene Violet? 27% Chafee, 27% Weygand, 24% Violet, 22% don't know or no answer

If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, would you vote for the Republican Lincoln Chafee, Democrat Richard Licht, or Independent candidate Arlene Violet? 32% Chafee, 17% Licht, 30% Violet, 21% don't know or no answer

(Primary voters only) If the Democratic presidential candidates were Al Gore and Bill Bradley, would you vote for: 37% Gore, 36% Bradley, 27% don't know or no answer

(Primary voters only) If the Democratic Senate candidates were Robert Weygand or Richard Licht, would you vote for: 44% Weygand, 19% Licht, 37% 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: 48% better off, 20% worse off financially than you were a year ago, 32% 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: 32% better off financially, 7% worse off, 50% just about the same as now, 11% 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: 57% good times financially, 18% bad times, 25% don't know or no answer

Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely--that in the state as a whole: 42% we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, 30% that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what, 28% 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: 63% good, 10% bad time for people to buy major household items, 27% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Bill Clinton is doing as president? 16% excellent, 44% good, 20% only fair, 12% poor, 8% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job John Chafee is doing as U.S. Senator? 18% excellent, 45% good, 16% only fair, 4% poor, 17% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. Senator? 12% excellent, 45% good, 15% only fair, 5% poor, 23% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. Representative? 14% excellent, 37% good, 20% only fair, 11% poor, 18% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Robert Weygand is doing as U.S. Representative? 7% excellent, 39% good, 20% only fair, 3% poor, 31% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Lincoln Almond is doing as governor? 9% excellent, 39% good, 30% only fair, 12% poor, 10% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Charles Fogarty is doing as lieutenant governor? 1% excellent, 20% good, 19% only fair, 3% poor, 57% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as attorney general? 6% excellent, 38% good, 22% only fair, 4% poor, 30% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as secretary of state? 14% excellent, 33% good, 12% only fair, 1% poor, 40% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Paul Tavares is doing as general treasurer? 4% excellent, 28% good, 18% only fair, 4% poor, 46% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Buddy Cianci is doing as Mayor of Providence? 36% excellent, 39% good, 9% only fair, 6% poor, 10% 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? 73% right direction, 15% wrong track, 12% don't know or no answer

As far as you are concerned, what is the most important problem facing the state of Rhode Island today: . education (17%), jobs and unemployment (11%), taxes (7%), ethics and corruption (6%), business climate (6%), politicians and government performance (5%), crime (4%), roads (3%), health care (3%), the environment (3%), the economy (3%), budget (2%), drugs (2%), violence (2%), and poverty (2%). All other problems named were under 1%

Darrell M. West