Is Chafee the Democrat? Digging into our latest poll

November 1st, 2010 at 2:51 pm by under General Talk

The big headlines from our new WPRI 12 poll last week were Frank Caprio’s seven-point drop, which put Lincoln Chafee in the lead for governor, and John Loughlin’s rapid gain on David Cicilline in the space of a month. But there were other interesting nuggets buried in the poll’s crosstabs – here are a few that stuck out to me.

• Is Lincoln Chafee the Democrat in the governor’s race? Looking at the coalition he’s put together, you could make the case. Chafee is either winning or nearly tied with Frank Caprio among some of the Democratic Party’s core consistencies.

Chafee is winning 52% of union households to Caprio’s 22%. The pair are tied among women at 29%, and statistically tied among younger voters (ages 18 to 39), with Chafee at 35% and Caprio at 34%. Among registered Democrats, Caprio’s lead over Chafee is just four points, 45%-41%. In the Democratic-leaning 1st District, Chafee leads Caprio 33%-27%.

The problem for Caprio is he hasn’t made up for that with new support elsewhere – Chafee leads him among men, 37%-23%; independents, 34%-13%; and seniors, 31%-28%. Among Republicans, Caprio only leads Chafee by one point, 12%-11%, while John Robitaille has 67%.

• Who’s persuadable at this point in the governor’s race? Only a few groups still have a double-digit number of undecided voters: independents, 17%; women, 14%; people ages 40 to 59, 14%; and 2nd District residents, 12%. They are taking their time, too – the number of undecideds in those groups was not statistically different from our previous poll a month earlier.

• Moderate Party founder Ken Block gets his strongest support from independents, at 7%. He’s also polling at 6% – two points above his overall rating – among men, younger voters, and Republicans.

• Unlike Caprio, David Cicilline is hanging on to traditional Democratic supporters, which is helping him keep a six-point lead over John Loughlin. Cicilline is winning women, seniors, and union members. But independents have deserted him over the past month, giving Loughlin 58% to Cicilline’s 28% – a 24-point gain for Loughlin and a 10-point loss for Cicilline, with 14% still undecided.

• Will Bob Venturini be our own Ralph Nader? Elizabeth Roberts should thank her lucky stars that the Pawtucket cable TV fixture is still in the lieutenant governor’s race – if his 5% support were added to Bob Healey’s 35%, the lieutenant governor’s race would be a statistical tie. It’s also a tad surprising that Healey is only winning 50% of Republicans – did they not get the message when Heidi Rogers dropped out? Or do they dislike the message?

• We also found 16% of likely voters still unsure who to support in the lieutenant governor’s race. With Roberts at 42% and Healey at 35%, which way those undecideds break could decide the outcome. Democrats have rallied to Roberts, but 22% of independents and 18% of Republicans still haven’t made up their minds.

• Ken Block’s fellow Moderate, attorney general candidate Chris Little, is doing far better than his party’s founder, polling at 12% in a five-man field. Little is winning 16% of middle-aged voters, 15% of independents and 13% of men. That may help explain why front-runner Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat, has trained his fire on Little in addition to Republican Erik Wallin.

• Congressman Jim Langevin does best among younger voters – those aged 18 to 39 – at 65%. The older you are, the less you like Langevin – he gets 55% of those ages 40 to 59 and 49% of those ages 60 and older. Langevin also has 23% of Republicans.

• The campaign to change Rhode Island’s formal name by deleting “and Providence Plantations” has gotten very little traction, with just 16% of voters saying they will approve the switch.

• Caprio is winning 14% of voters who say his association with “old-style politics” will prevent them from voting for him. Chafee is winning 8% of voters who say his sales tax proposal will, again, prevent them from voting for him. Yet Robitaille is only winning 1% of voters who say his service in the Carcieri administration will prevent them from voting for him. Weird.

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7 Responses to “Is Chafee the Democrat? Digging into our latest poll”

  1. Wait, I don’t understand the last part. X% of voters who say they won’t vote for a candidate for a particular reason *will* vote for them? That doesn’t make sense does it?

  2. Ted says:

    Exactly. Our question specifically asked if those three factors (Caprio and “old politics,” Chafee’s tax plan, Robitaille’s Carcieri services) would *prevent* the survey respondent from voting for the candidate in question. And 14% of self-identified *Caprio supporters* said it would prevent them from voting … for Caprio. Strange, huh?

  3. F.H. says:

    Nice analysis. Ted, you’re Rhode Island’s own Nate Silver, seems like.

  4. Frymaster says:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right, Ted. You’re saying that Caprio barely leads Chafee among Democrats. Except in the very Democratic H1 district, Chafee leads Caprio. What makes this all seem so ill is the Dem-Ind-Rep imbalance.

    Just as Caprio is not a Democrat until you right a treatise explaining exactly what “Democrat” means when you’re in the state of Rhode Island, a Democrat is not a Democrat in the state of RI.

    If you trust the name, you will likely be misled. I suggest you start adding proxy questions of a more subjective nature. That will draw out the distinctions.

    Or would have.

    Also, Chafee is the Democrat? SCOREBOARD!

    Try to catch up tomorrow. I’m watching polls early and late. Cheers, kid. You’ve done a heckuva job.

  5. Frymaster says:

    …until you write a treatise…

  6. Ted says:

    F.H., I appreciate the compliment, though I’m sure my math teachers would laugh hard and long at any comparison of yours truly with Silver.

    John, I should have known I’d get your dander up with a headline like that. Covering this election has been more like “Alice in Wonderland” than “Whatever It Takes,” that’s for sure.