The last time WPRI 12 released a statewide public opinion poll was in February – nearly eight months ago, a lifetime in politics. Our pollster Joe Fleming spent last week surveying Rhode Islanders and the results will be released starting at 6 p.m. This isn’t just a horse-race poll – we asked questions on other topics in the news as well. With that in mind, here are a few things to watch for.
• Cicilline vs. Doherty. Are the Democrats’ polls right, or not? That’s the big question on this one. The February WPRI 12 poll gave Doherty a 15-point lead; even Republicans say the race has tightened since then, but they remain skeptical it’s moved so much that Cicilline now has the advantage. Which voters are returning to the Cicilline fold after deserting him in February? And what impact is independent David Vogel having – does he take votes from one or both of the top contenders? (Monday at 6)
• Approval ratings. There’s Cicilline, of course, but we asked about a long list of others too – Obama, Chafee, Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin, Raimondo and Taveras. Chafee’s approval rating was a dismal 21% in February; has he made any progress since then? What about Cicilline, who was at 20%? Is Obama’s national improvement showing up in Rhode Island? And with an eye on the 2014 gubernatorial race, how do voters feel about Raimondo and Taveras? (Monday and Tuesday)
• Chafee and 38 Studios. One question I stuck into the poll will test whether voters think Governor Chafee did a good job handling the collapse of Curt Schilling’s video game company last spring. It’s been suggested the 38 Studios fiasco could help Chafee rebuild his public standing, since he opposed the deal in the first place and refused to risk more taxpayer money on it last May. Still, the company collapsed and $100 million is owed. What do voters think of the governor’s decisions? (Tuesday at 11)
• Same-sex marriage. House Speaker Gordon Fox announced on Newsmakers he’ll call a vote early next session on legalizing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, but Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed remains opposed. The question hasn’t been polled since Public Policy Polling’s February 2011 survey, which found 50% of Rhode Islanders in favor and 41% opposed. What do voters think of the idea now? (Monday at 6)
• Throw the bums out? The question itself says it all: “If there were a place on the ballot that allowed you to defeat and replace every single member of the General Assembly, including your own representative, would you?” When the NBC/WSJ pollsters asked the same question about Congress last January, 56% of Americans said they’d toss out every congressman and senator. Would Rhode Islanders do the same with their oft-criticized state lawmakers? (Monday at 6)