PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new Brown University poll finds moderate support among Rhode Island voters on the issues of health care reform and the war in Afghanistan, while an overwhelming majority believes the economy is still faring poorly. The survey was conducted Dec. 4-6, 2009, by researchers at The A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown University. It is based on a statewide random sample of 442 registered voters in Rhode Island. Overall, the poll had a margin of error of about plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
When asked to describe the state of the nation’s economy, nearly 89 percent of registered voters characterized it as “not so good” or “poor.” An even larger majority — 94.6 percent — described Rhode Island’s economy as “not so good” or “poor.” Nearly 50 percent said that they feel that the economy has not begun to recover, while 45.5 percent said they feel the economy has begun to recover.
According to this survey, the economic stimulus package that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed earlier this year is not viewed as having done much to help the economy. For example, 52 percent of respondents said that the stimulus program hasn’t made a difference in the nation’s economy, 79.4 percent said that the program hasn’t made a difference in their personal financial situation, and 59.6 percent said that it hasn’t made a difference in their local community. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed approved of the way Obama is handling the economy.
Participants were also asked about the issues of health care and the war in Afghanistan. The survey found moderate support among Rhode Island voters for the proposed changes to the health care system being developed in Congress. When asked, 45.2 percent of respondents said they “strongly support” or “support” the proposed health care changes, while 38 percent “oppose” or “strongly oppose” the changes. Nearly 55 percent of those polled would “strongly support” or “support” having a government-created health insurance program.
On Afghanistan, respondents were asked if they agreed with Obama’s decision to commit more troops to that country. The survey found that 50 percent of registered voters “strongly agree” or “agree” with the President’s decision, while almost 45 percent “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with his decision. A slim majority, 50.7 percent, of respondents disagreed with Obama’s decision to publicly announce a date for beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
President Obama’s approval rating among Rhode Island voters was 53 percent, down from 74 percent during a Taubman Center poll in May 2009. Fifty-six percent of respondents rate the performance of Sen. Jack Reed as good or excellent, while 43 percent believe Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is doing a good or excellent job. Thirty-seven percent feel Rep. Patrick Kennedy is doing a good or excellent job and 46 percent believe Rep. Jim Langevin is doing a good or excellent job.
When asked about the job performance of state officials, 36 percent feel Gov. Donald Carcieri is doing a good or excellent job. Twenty-two percent rate Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts as doing a good or excellent job. Thirty-eight percent of respondents believe Attorney General Patrick Lynch is doing a good or excellent job, while 22 percent feel that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is doing a good or excellent job. Thirty-nine percent of voters believe Treasurer Frank Caprio Jr. is doing a good or excellent job.
Forty percent of respondents said Providence Mayor David Cicilline is doing a good or excellent job. Seventeen percent feel House Speaker William Murphy is doing a good or excellent job and 19 percent think Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing a good or excellent job.
The survey also asked some questions about local issues. It found that many respondents believe there is an interrelationship between Providence and the surrounding region. For example, nearly 85 percent of participants said they think ”that what happens to Providence has an impact on the surrounding area” and 73 percent said that “what happens to the surrounding area has an impact on Providence.” The survey also found support among voters for consolidating or regionalizing public services. For instance, 69 percent of respondents felt the state’s 39 municipal public works departments should be consolidated.
Participants were asked about the recent public dispute between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin. When asked, 48.6 percent said the dispute had no effect on their opinion of Kennedy, while 38.7 percent said the dispute had no effect on their opinion of Bishop Tobin.
Findings also show that a majority — 68 percent — of Rhode Island voters believe the state is on the wrong track.
For more information, contact Marion Orr at (401) 863-9436.
Survey Questions and Responses
Q1. Overall, given what you know about them, would you say you strongly support, support, oppose or strongly oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by (Congress) and (the Obama administration)? Strongly Support 11.5%; Support 33.7%; Oppose 19.7%; Strongly Oppose 18.6%; DK/NA 16.5%
Q1a. Do you have some form of health insurance or health care coverage? Yes 93.2% No 5.9% DK/NA .9%
Q2. Just your best guess, if the health care system is changed, do you think the quality of your health care will get (better), get (worse), or remain about the same? Get Better 12.0%; Get Worse 34.1%; Remain about the same 45.5%; DK/NA 8.4%
Q2a. Just your best guess, if the health care system is changed, do you think the quality of health care for most people will get (better), get (worse), or remain about the same? Get Better 37.8%; Get Worse 33.2%; Remain about the same 22.2%; DK/NA 6.8%
Q3. If the health care system is changed do you think your health care costs will (increase), (decrease), or remain about the same? Increase 55.3%; Decrease 11.5%; Remain about the same 26.9%; DK/NA 6.3%
Q3a. Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat? Strongly support 24.9%; Support 29.9%; Oppose 15.4%; Strongly oppose 19.5%; DK/NA 10.3%
Now I’m going to read you the names of several elected officials, can you please tell me if you think they are doing an excellent, good, only fair or poor job in office?
Q4. How would you rate the job Barack Obama is doing as president? Excellent 18.8%; Good 34.6%; Only fair 27.4%; Poor 17.0%; DK/NA 2.2%
Q5. How would you rate the job Jack Reed is doing as US senator? Excellent 21.0%; Good 35.3%; Only fair 20.6%; Poor 14.7%; DK/NA 8.4%
Q6. How would you rate the job Sheldon Whitehouse is doing as U.S. senator? Excellent 9.3%; Good 34.4%; Only fair 22.6%; Poor 19.2%; DK/NA 14.5%
Q7. How would you rate the job Patrick Kennedy is doing as U.S. representative? Excellent 9.0%; Good 28.7%; Only fair 23.3%; Poor 32.4%; DK/NA 6.6%
Q8. How would you rate the job Jim Langevin (LANJ-e-vin) is doing as U.S. representative? Excellent 10.4%; Good 35.6%; Only fair 27.1%; Poor 10.6%; DK/NA 16.3%
Q9. How would you rate the job Don Carcieri (Ca-CHER-ee) is doing as governor? Excellent 7.2%; Good 29.4%; Only fair 24.7%; Poor 31.7%; DK/NA 7.0%
Q10. How would you rate the job Elizabeth Roberts is doing as lieutenant governor? Excellent 2.5%; Good 19.9%; Only fair 27.1%; Poor 10.2%; DK/NA 40.3%
Q11. How would you rate the job Patrick Lynch is doing as attorney general? Excellent 7.2%; Good 31.0%; Only fair 29.2%; Poor 18.1%; DK/NA 14.5%
Q12. How would you rate the job Ralph Mollis is doing as secretary of state? Excellent 2.5%; Good 20.1%; Only fair 23.5%; Poor 8.8%; DK/NA 45.1%
Q13. How would you rate the job Frank Caprio, Jr. is doing as general treasurer? Excellent 7.5%; Good 31.5%; Only fair 19.2%; Poor 7.2%; DK/NA 34.6%
Q14. How would you rate the job William Murphy is doing as house speaker? Excellent 1.6%; Good 15.6%; Only fair 21.3%; Poor 21.9%; DK/NA 39.6%
Q15. How would you rate the job Teresa Paiva-Weed is doing as Senate President? Excellent 3.6% Good 15.4% Only fair 19.9% Poor 19.2% DK/NA 41.9%
Q16. How would you rate the job David Cicilline (SISS-a-lini) is doing as mayor of Providence? Excellent 7.5%; Good 33.3%; Only fair 25.8%; Poor 21.3%; DK/NA 12.1
Q17. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? Approve 53.2%; Disapprove 40.0%; DK/NA 6.8%
Q18. In terms of your own personal experience, do you feel the economy has or has not begun to recover? Begun to recover 45.5%; Has NOT begun to recover 49.8%; DK/NA 4.7%
Q18a. Would you describe the state of the nation’s economy these days as – excellent, good, not so good, or poor? Excellent .2%; Good 10.0%; Not so good 52.7%; Poor 36.0%; DK/NA 1.1%
Q19. Would you describe the state of Rhode Island’s economy these days as – excellent, good, not so good, or poor? Excellent 0.0%; Good 4.3%; Not so good 26.9%; Poor 67.7%; DK/NA 1.1%
Q20. Would you describe the state of your own personal finances these days as – excellent, good, not so good, or poor? Excellent 2.9%; Good 52.4%; Not so good 27.7%; Poor 12.2%; DK/NA 3.8%
Q21. Do you personally know a friend or family member who recently lost their job? Yes 75.3%; No 22.4%; DK/NA 2.3%
Q22. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has (helped) the national economy, (hurt) the national economy, or hasn’t made much difference? Helped 30.8%; Hurt 14.3%; Hasn’t mad a difference 52.0%; DK/NA 2.9%
Q23. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has (helped) your personal financial situation, (hurt) your personal financial situation , or hasn’t made much difference? Helped 8.6%; Hurt 9.7%; Hasn’t made a difference 79.4%; DK/NA 2.3%
Q24. So far, do you think the economic stimulus program has (helped) your local community, hurt) your local community, or hasn’t made much difference? Helped 22.6%; Hurt 11.5%; Hasn’t made a difference 59.6%; DK/Na 6.3%
Q25. Generally speaking, would you say things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track? Right direction 17.0%; Off on wrong track 68.3%; Mixed 7.2%; DK/NA 7.5%
Earlier this week President Obama indicated an additional 30,000 US combat troops would be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months and also said the US would begin withdrawing US forces in July of 2011.
Q26. Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the President’s decision to commit 30,000 additional combat troops to the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda extremists in Afghanistan? Strongly agree 10.4%; Agree 40.3%; Disagree 27.1%; Strongly disagree 17.4%; DK/NA 4.8%
Q27. Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the President’s decision to publicly set a deadline of July 2011 when the US would begin withdrawing US forces in Afghanistan? Strongly agree 10.2%; Agree 33.5%; Disagree 30.3%; Strongly disagree 20.4%; DK/NA 5.6%
Q28. Turning back to more local issues, from your perspective, do you think that what happens to Providence has an impact on the surrounding area? Agree 84.8%; Disagree 10.2%; DK/NA 5.0$
Q29. From your perspective, do you think that what happens to the surrounding area has an impact on Providence? Agree 73.5%; Disagree 19.7%; DK/NA 6.8%
Q30. Has the recent public dispute between Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin had a positive, negative or no affect at all on your opinion of Rep. Kennedy? Positive 16.1%; Negative 26.5%; No affect 48.6%; DK/NA 7.8%
Q31. Has the recent public dispute between Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin had a positive, negative or no affect at all on your opinion of Bishop Tobin? Positive 17.6%; Negative 31.4%; No affect 38.7%; DK/NA 12.2%
Gov. Carcieri has proposed a high-powered commission to study the feasibility of consolidating or regionalizing public services, like education, public safety, and other municipal services. The argument is that there is too much duplication of services among the state’s 39 municipalities. Do you agree or disagree the following services should be consolidated?
Q32. School Administration? Agree 64.3%; Disagree 25.3%; DK/NA 10.4%
Q33. Police? Agree 51.1%; Disagree 37.8%; DK/NA 11.1%
Q34. Fire? Agree 54.8%; Disagree 34.6%; DK/NA 10.6%
Q35. Public Works? Agree 69.2%; Disagree 20.8%; DK/NA 10.0
Q36. All Services? Agree 53.0%; Disagree 33.7%; DK/NA 13.3