Poll: RI residents are the least proud of their state

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Islanders take less pride in their state than residents of any other state in the country, a new poll suggests.

Just 18% of Rhode Islanders described Rhode Island as the best or one of the best places to live in a Gallup poll released Thursday – the lowest percentage in the country and even lower than among residents of Illinois (19%) or Mississippi (26%).

Fully 17% of Rhode Islanders actually described the state as the worst possible to live in, tied with Connecticut for second-highest; Illinois ranked first, with 25% of residents there describing it as the worst state. Rhode Island was one of only a handful of states where more than 10% of residents described it as the worst state.

Massachusetts residents were more than twice as likely as Rhode Islanders to take pride in their state, with 46% of Bay Staters describing the state as the best or one of the best places to live, Gallup said.

At the top of the list, 77% of Montana and Alaska residents described their states as the best or one of the best places to live. In New England, the most self-confident states were New Hampshire (67%) and Vermont (61%), followed by Maine (57%), Massachusetts (46%) and Connecticut (31%).

“Residents of Western and Midwestern states are generally more positive about their states as places to live,” Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy noted. “With the exception of the New England states of New Hampshire and Vermont, all of the top 10 rated states are west of the Mississippi River.”

McCarthy also noted that most of the 10 states whose residents are most likely to say their state is among the best places to live have small populations and cold winters – making Rhode Island residents’ discontent even more striking.

Just 3% of Rhode Island residents described the state as the absolute best to live in, tied for lowest with Illinois and Connecticut.

Gallup’s poll results also found only 40% of Rhode Islanders had a great deal or a fair amount of trust in their state government, tied for second-lowest in the country, and that 70% say the amount they pay in state taxes is too high, which was fifth-highest. Rhode Islanders also ranked third-lowest on Gallup’s Standard of Living index last year and were the second-most-stressed in 2012.

“Residents with the most pride in their state as a place to live generally boast a greater standard of living, higher trust in state government, and less resentment toward the amount they pay in state taxes,” McCarthy wrote. “However, the factors that residents use to determine whether their state is a great place to live are not always obvious.”

The poll was conducted by Gallup between June and December of last year using a random sample of approximately 600 adults ages 18 and older in each state, a spokesman told WPRI.com.

The Gallup survey is hardly the first to show Rhode Island’s roughly 1 million residents feeling glum. A Brown University poll earlier this month found 63% of Rhode Islanders voters thought the state was off on the wrong track, though that was down from a high of 80% in February 2009.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested Gallup surveyed approximately 600 adults nationwide; the polling firm says it surveyed approximately 600 adults in each state.

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