Our Rhode Island Senate poll last week found that former Governor Don Carcieri would actually be one of the weakest candidates possible for the Republicans to put forward against Sheldon Whitehouse next year. In spite of that he's the first choice of GOP voters in the state with 44% saying they'd like him to be their candidate. After him it's a four way tie for 2nd place at 12% with Scott Avedisian, Buddy Cianci, John Loughlin, and John Robitaille all registering there. Further back are Allan Fung at 6%, who announced he wouldn't run after we'd already conducted the poll, Catherine Taylor at 2%, and Giovanni Cicione at 0% (1 person said he was their top choice.)
If you take Carcieri and Cianci out of the mix Robitaille becomes the top choice at 31%, followed by Loughlin at 24%, and Avedisian at 21%. The departed Fung is at 14% with Cicione up to 3% and Taylor still at 2%.
Our general election numbers found that Avedisian would be the most viable Republican against Whitehouse but these numbers suggest some lack of enthusiasm for him from the party base. His path to the nomination seems as if it would really benefit from a clear field. Otherwise he could be susceptible to a more conservative opponent.
Mitt Romney's the overwhelming first choice for President in the state. 39% of voters hope he'll be the nominee to 15% for Mike Huckabee, 13% for Newt Gingrich, and 10% for Sarah Palin. Rounding out the field of candidates is Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty at 5%, Mitch Daniels at 4%, and the now departed John Thune at 1%.
Romney's favorability numbers lag the rest of the Republican field in most of the states we've been polling but that's not a problem for him in Rhode Island. 73% of GOP voters have a positive opinion of him to only 16% with a negative one. Besides him only Huckabee is able to crack 60%, at a 64/19 spread. Gingrich comes in at 56/28 and Palin barely even cracks majority popularity with the base at 51/36.
Full results here