PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo’s approach to battling the coronavirus pandemic is winning high marks from voters in a new poll.
The Microsoft News Poll found 76% of Rhode Islanders say they approve of the work done by Raimondo and her administration “to keep people safe” during the ongoing crisis. By contrast, just 27% of Rhode Islanders say they approve of how President Trump is dealing with the situation.
The poll found majority support across all 50 states for how governors are handling coronavirus. Raimondo was tied with the governors of North Dakota and Utah for the 12th-highest rating.
The finding is noteworthy in part because the second-term Democrat has never received high marks in public opinion polls in the past, although she won re-election with a majority of the vote in 2018.
“I’m not surprised by the governor’s results at all,” said WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming. “She’s shown strong leadership. She’s been very decisive. She knows what she wants in all her press conferences, and I think she makes strong points to the citizens of Rhode Island. And I think they’re responding to her.”
Microsoft News and Microsoft Research, both arms of the software giant, said their surveying “uses online opt-in polls, collected from a random sample of American adults, to produce statistically valid results.” The margin of error for the survey, conducted March 21 to April 1, is plus or minus 2 percentage points. The company did not say how many Rhode Islanders were surveyed.
Previous Rhode Island governors have bolstered their standing with voters during crises, with political observers often mentioning Gov. Joe Garrahy during the Blizzard of ’78 and Gov. Don Carcieri in the aftermath the Station nightclub fire.
While both of those events happened fairly early in the two governors’ terms — for Carcieri, it was only his second month on the job — Fleming said it’s possible Raimondo could also get a longer-lasting boost if voters continue to think she’s managing the situation well.
“I think people look at how they handle a crisis, and that changes a lot of people’s opinions of a person, based on what they’ve done in a very difficult situation,” he said.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker’s handling of coronavirus scored an 81% approval rating in the Microsoft poll, while Trump’s actions only received 28% approval. Both findings were in line with a Boston Globe/Suffolk University survey late last month.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook