Poll puts Gov. Raimondo’s approval rating at 46%

Massachusetts' Charlie Baker is nation's most popular governor, same survey finds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Slightly less than half of Rhode Island voters said they approve of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s job performance in a newly released poll that was conducted over the course of the last six months.

The survey of 411 Rhode Island registered voters by the website Morning Consult found 46% approved of the job Raimondo is doing, while 39% disapproved and 15% said they didn’t know enough to share an opinion.

The Rhode Island results were gleaned from a larger telephone survey of 76,569 voters nationwide conducted by Morning Consult between May and November – an unusually long period of time to test an approval rating, which is typically a snapshot of a single moment. The margin of error for the Rhode Island results is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

The poll represents the first data point on how voters feel about Raimondo that’s been released publicly since her election last November, and can be seen as good news and bad news for the Democratic governor.

On the negative side, the results show Raimondo has one of the lower approval ratings among the nation’s governors: she is one of only 16 stuck under 50%, partly because a sizable chunk of voters don’t have an opinion about her.

Raimondo is also in far weaker shape politically than Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, who is also in the first year of his first term, but who posted a sky-high 74% approval rating that makes him the most popular governor in the country by Morning Consult’s reckoning.

On the positive side, Raimondo’s 46% approval rating is higher than the share of the vote she won in last November’s election – 41% – and significantly better than opinions about her predecessor, independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee, who never rose above roughly 30% during his troubled four-year term.

In fact, public polling suggests Rhode Island hasn’t had a governor with an approval rating above 50% since around the start of Republican Don Carcieri’s second term in early 2007, which – probably not coincidentally – is the same time that Rhode Island’s economy first began to shed jobs.

Raimondo’s net job performance rating – taking her approval number and subtracting her disapproval number from it – is also in positive territory, at 7%, which is tied for 13th-lowest. Baker’s net rating of 60% was the highest in the nation, while Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s -25% was lowest.

Marie Aberger, a spokeswoman for Raimondo, declined to comment directly on the poll results but said the governor is focused on policy changes.

“The numbers make it clear that we’re moving in the right direction: college is more affordable for more than 6,000 students because of RI’s Promise; Rhode Island has driven its unemployment rate down 25.3% from this time a year ago; over 70,000 Rhode Island businesses are expected to save a combined total of more than $20 million this year because we eliminated the sales tax on commercial energy; and we’re on track to achieve $70 million in Medicaid savings to make the state a more stable and predictable place to do business,” she said.

“We have momentum, and we’re going to keep going,” Aberger added.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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