PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than half of Rhode Island voters are unhappy with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s job performance after a sharp rise in her negative ratings this year, according to a newly released poll.
The survey of 298 Rhode Island registered voters by the website Morning Consult found 41% approved of the job Raimondo is doing, while 53% disapproved and 5% said they didn’t know enough to share an opinion.
While approval of Raimondo’s work as governor has only dipped by 5 percentage points since a Morning Consult poll last year, her disapproval number has jumped by 14 percentage points, as more Rhode Islanders developed opinions and they often turned out to be negative.
Morning Consult said its polling shows Raimondo is No. 7 among the nation’s most unpopular governors, and she ranks as the second-worst Democrat, topped only by nearby Dan Malloy of Connecticut, whose approval rating was 29%.
The Rhode Island results were gleaned from weekly online national polling of about 66,000 U.S. registered voters conducted by Morning Consult between early January and May 5 – an unusually long period of time to test a job approval rating, which is typically a snapshot of a single moment. The margin of error for the Rhode Island results is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.
Asked Thursday how she reacted to seeing her approval rating at 41%, Raimondo replied: “I was pleased.”
“You know, it’s early in my term,” she continued. “We’ve been on for a year. We’ve had a lot of momentum. Our unemployment rate dropped. But we have a lot of work to do. As I said when I took office, we’re not going to get here overnight. We’re not going to get out overnight.”
“So what do I do? Every day I wake up and I work as hard as I can to put the people of Rhode Island, keep climbing the hill, working for Rhode Islanders and showing results,” she said. “I think that’s what people want to see.”
While Raimondo’s aides are unlikely to welcome the fresh findings, it can’t be considered a surprise – and it may even overstate her standing, since some of the polling could have been conducted as long as four months ago.
Raimondo is fresh off the roughest stretch of her 15-month-old governorship, following a string of negative headlines that started with the “Cooler & Warmer” tourism debacle in early April and continued with the revelation that she held an undisclosed fundraiser last week during an economic-development trip to California.
A Brown University survey out last month suggested Raimondo’s approval rating was in the 30s among likely Democratic and Republican presidential-primary voters, though the school’s methodology was widely questioned, particularly after the election results showed its results were far off the mark. Private polling is also said to show Raimondo’s numbers on a downward slide this year.
Raimondo’s numbers look particularly weak in comparison with her extraordinarily popular next-door colleague and occasional policy partner Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican who also failed to secure a majority of the vote in 2014. Baker’s approval rating was a remarkable 72% in the latest Morning Consult survey, making him again the most popular governor in the nation.
Raimondo won her 2014 election victory with just 41% of the vote in a three-way field against Republican Allan Fung and the late Robert Healey, meaning her approval rating in the new poll is the same number as her share of the vote then.
Public polling from various organizations 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.Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and InstagramMadeline Wright contributed to this report.