Rhode Island State Survey, June 2001

Kennedy Leads Almond in Possible House Race; 81 Percent Believe Corruption is Problem in Providence City Government

A survey of 400 statewide voters conducted June 9-11 also finds that 41 percent think Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci is guilty of corruption charges, 21 percent think he is not guilty, and 38 percent are unsure.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Congressman Patrick Kennedy leads Governor Lincoln Almond in the first congressional district if the governor is the Republican candidate, according to a new public opinion survey by researchers at Brown University.

The survey was conducted June 9-11, 2001 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 is based on a statewide random sample of 400 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus five percentage points.

If the congressional match-up between Kennedy and Almond materializes, 48 percent of first district voters say they would cast ballots for Kennedy, 30 percent indicate they would vote for Almond, and 22 percent are undecided. Forty-five percent believe Congressman Kennedy is doing an excellent or good job (down from 49 percent in February), while 24 percent rate his performance only fair, 15 percent say it is poor, and 16 percent don't know.

Forty-five percent give Governor Lincoln Almond excellent or good ratings for how he is handling his job, compared to 31 percent who say it is only fair, 14 percent who believe it is poor, and 10 percent who are uncertain. In February, 52 percent gave Almond excellent or good marks.

Eighty-one percent believe that corruption in Providence city government is a very or somewhat serious problem. Seventy percent say Mayor Cianci has provided strong leadership for the city, but only 48 percent claim he has provided effective management of city government and 22 percent believe he is an honest person. Fifty percent do not think Cianci is an honest person.

When asked whether they think Cianci is guilty of the corruption, bribery, and extortion charges for which he is under federal indictment, 41 percent say he is guilty, 21 percent believe he is not guilty, and 38 percent do not know or offer no opinion. Sixty-four percent give Mayor Cianci excellent or good marks for how he is handling his overall job, up from 60 percent among statewide likely voters in October, 2000.

Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty is rated excellent or good by 34 percent of voters (down from 38 percent last February). Forty-eight percent give excellent or good marks to Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (down from 57 percent last February). Secretary of State Ed Inman is rated favorably by 17 percent of voters (down from 24 percent in February), and Treasurer Paul Tavaras has a 31 percent job approval rating (down from 38 percent last February).

Eighteen percent say House Speaker John Harwood has done an excellent or good job, while 21 percent say it has been only fair, 16 percent believe it has been poor, and 45 percent are unsure. In February, 23 percent rated his performance excellent or good, 24 percent indicated it was only fair, 12 percent thought it had been poor, and 41 percent were unsure. In June, 1999, 24 percent gave Harwood excellent or good marks, 18 percent rated him only fair, 9 percent said his performance was poor, and 49 percent were unsure. Senate Majority Leader William Irons has a 19 percent job performance rating, down from 28 percent in February.

In regard to federal officials, President George W. Bush's performance is rated as excellent or good by 34 percent of Rhode Island voters (down from 39 percent in February). Fifty-nine percent say the job performance of Senator Lincoln Chafee has been excellent or good (up from 57 percent in February, 2000). Sixty percent give excellent or good marks to Senator Jack Reed (down from 62 percent in February). Forty-four percent believe Congressman James Langevin is doing an excellent or good job (down from 45 percent).

Fifty-eight percent feel the state is headed in the right direction, while only 28 percent believe it is off on the wrong track. Last February, 62 percent claimed Rhode Island was moving in the right direction, and 26 percent felt it was on the wrong track.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment for Rhode Island this month has risen slightly to 86.5, up from 84.9 in February, 2001, although down from 97.9 in February, 2000 and 106.3 in January, 1999. 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 compared to the base period of 1966, when the index stood at 100. The higher the reading, the more optimistic consumers are.

When asked what was the most important problem facing the state of Rhode Island today, 11% named unemployment and jobs and 11% cited education, followed by 10% ethics and corruption, 7% taxes, 6% economy, 5% health care, 5% government performance, 3% business climate, 3% port, 3% environment, 2% crime, 2% government budget, 2% energy costs (all others under 2%).

For more information, contact Darrell M. West at (401) 863-1163 or see the website: www.InsidePolitics.org.

Survey Questions and Responses

(first district voters only) If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for the Republican Lincoln Almond or Democrat Patrick Kennedy? 30% Almond, 48% Kennedy, 22% 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: 41% better off, 27% 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: 24% better off financially, 14% worse off, 53% just about the same as now, 9% 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: 38% good times financially, 34% bad times, 28% don't know or no answer

Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely--that in the state as a whole: 40% we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, 33% that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, 27% 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: 57% good, 21% 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, 27% good, 36% only fair, 19% poor, 11% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as U.S. Senator? 11% excellent, 49% good, 16% only fair, 3% poor, 21% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Lincoln Chafee is doing as U.S. Senator? 9% excellent, 50% good, 20% only fair, 4% poor, 17% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. Representative? 8% excellent, 37% good, 24% only fair, 15% poor, 16% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Jim Langevin is doing as U.S. Representative? 6% excellent, 38% good, 13% only fair, 2% poor, 41% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Lincoln Almond is doing as governor? 7% excellent, 38% good, 31% only fair, 14% poor, 10% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Charles Fogarty is doing as lieutenant governor? 3% excellent, 31% good, 19% only fair, 2% poor, 45% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as attorney general? 7% excellent, 41% good, 20% only fair, 7% poor, 25% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Ed Inman is doing as secretary of state? 1% excellent, 16% good, 12% only fair, 4% poor, 67% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Paul Tavares is doing as general treasurer? 3% excellent, 28% good, 18% only fair, 2% poor, 49% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job William Irons is doing as Senate Majority Leader? 2% excellent, 17% good, 18% only fair, 6% poor, 57% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job John Harwood is doing as Speaker of the House? 2% excellent, 16% good, 21% only fair, 16% poor, 45% don't know or no answer

How would you rate the job Buddy Cianci is doing as mayor of Providence? 27% excellent, 37% good, 14% only fair, 13% poor, 9% 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? 58% right direction, 28% wrong track, 14% 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? (open-ended responses classified into the following categories) 11% unemployment and jobs, 11% education, 10% ethics and corruption, 7% taxes, 6% economy, 5% health care, 5% government performance, 3% business climate, 3% port, 3% environment, 2% crime, 2% government budget, 2% energy costs (all others under 2%)

How serious of a problem do you think corruption is in Providence city government? 49% very serious, 32% somewhat serious, 9% not very serious, 10% don't know or no answer

Do you think Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci has provided strong leadership for the city? 70% yes, 17% no, 13% don't know or no answer

Do you believe Buddy Cianci is an honest person? 22% yes, 50% no, 28% don't know or no answer

Do you think Buddy Cianci has provided effective management of Providence city government? 48% yes, 32% no, 20% don't know or no answer

Buddy Cianci has been indicted on charges including corruption, bribery, and extortion. Do you believe Cianci is guilty or not guilty of these charges? 41% guilty, 21% not guilty, 38% don't know or no answer

Darrell M. West