Poll: Raimondo is favorite for gov; Chafee does best as a Dem

Democrat Gina Raimondo is the early favorite to win the 2014 governor’s race, according to a new poll released Thursday morning to WPRI.com.

The Public Policy Polling survey [pdf] shows Raimondo would win anywhere from 32% to 46% of the vote depending on which hypothetical opponents she faces. She is the only candidate to crack 40% support in any of 10 ballot tests conducted by PPP.

If Raimondo is out of the picture, however, there’s no clear frontrunner: the leading candidates in non-Raimondo scenarios shift between Republican Brendan Doherty, Republican Allan Fung and Democrat Angel Taveras depending on the match-up. Moderate Party founder Ken Block starts out with double-digit support in most scenarios, suggesting his presence could have a major impact on the outcome.

Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee faces an unsurprisingly uphill battle to win a second term, with more than half of voters saying they don’t want him to run again. His strongest shot at re-election comes if he runs as a Democrat: running under the party banner, Chafee starts out trailing Republicans Doherty and Fung by just four points. Among voters who do want Chafee to run again, 20% say he should run as an independent and 18% say he should run as a Democrat.

The automated telephone survey of 614 Rhode Island voters was conducted Jan. 28 to 30 by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated firm in Raleigh, N.C., that was widely praised for its accuracy in last November’s election. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points overall and 5.5 points on questions that were asked only of 320 Democratic primary voters.

PPP will release a second round of results on Friday concerning federal questions, including U.S. Sen. Jack Reed’s standing ahead of his 2014 re-election bid.

In a Democratic gubernatorial primary that includes Chafee, Raimondo gets 35% support, followed by Chafee at 22%, Taveras at 19% and Almonte at 11%. Another 12% of Democratic primary voters are unsure. Raimondo and Taveras both benefit if Chafee doesn’t run in the primary, with Raimondo rising to 44% and Taveras rising to 35%.

The silver lining for Chafee: his job approval rating has inched up to 33%, compared with the 22% he scored a year ago, though 59% still disapprove of his performance. However, PPP said its polling shows he’s the second most unpopular governor in the country, behind only Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Lincoln Chafee is really in a hole,” PPP President Dena Debnam said in a statement. “He managed to win in 2010 because of a splintered field but even that wouldn’t put him across the finish line at this point.”

The other potential candidates for governor are viewed positively overall: Taveras is on top with a 63% favorable rating, followed by Raimondo at 57%, Fung at 55% and Doherty at 45%.

The poll results will cheer supporters of same-sex marriage: 57% of Rhode Island voters say gay nuptials should be allowed in the state, while only 36% say they should not. Only 13% of voters say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship, while 31% would prefer civil unions over marriage.

Rhode Islanders will vote next year on whether the state should hold a constitutional convention, and at this early date 40% of voters say they support having one while 25% oppose doing so and 35% aren’t sure. Similarly, 46% of voters say they support the 2011 pension law championed by Raimondo, while 20% oppose the law and 34% aren’t sure.

In the secretary of state’s race, the lion’s share of Democratic primary voters don’t have a favorite candidate yet: Party Chairman Ed Pacheco gets 15% and Newport Democrat Guillaume de Ramel gets 8%.

Here are the poll results for all the potential general elections for governor tested by PPP:

  • ​Raimondo​ 32%
  • ​Doherty​ 28%
  • ​Chafee [I]​ 22%
  • ​Block​ 8%
  • ​unsure​ 9%
  • ​Doherty​ 31%
  • ​Taveras​ 26%
  • Chafee [I] 23%
  • ​Block​ 10%
  • ​unsure​ 10%
  • ​Raimondo​ 35%
  • ​Fung​ 23%
  • Chafee [I] 21%
  • Block 10%
  • ​unsure​ 12%
  • ​Fung​ 26%
  • Taveras 26%
  • Chafee [I] 20%
  • Block 13%
  • unsure 14%
  • ​Doherty​ 39%
  • Chafee [D]​ 35%
  • ​Block​ 13%
  • unsure 14%
  • ​Fung​ 36%
  • Chafee [D] 32%
  • Block 16%
  • unsure 15%
  • ​Raimondo​ 44%
  • Doherty 32%
  • Block 10%
  • unsure 14%
  • ​Raimondo​ 46%
  • Fung 27%
  • Block 12%
  • unsure 14%
  • ​Taveras​ 39%
  • Doherty 35%
  • Block 13%
  • unsure 13%
  • Taveras 37%
  • Fung 31%
  • Block 15%
  • unsure 17%

And here are the scenarios tested with Democratic primary voters only:

  • Raimondo 35%
  • Chafee 22%
  • Taveras 19%
  • Almonte 11%
  • unsure 12%
  • Raimondo 44%
  • Taveras 35%
  • Almonte 9%
  • unsure 13%
  • Pacheco 15%
  • de Ramel 8%
  • unsure 77%

• Related: Chafee raised $92,000 for re-election bid in fourth quarter (Jan. 31)

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