Lincoln Chafee's prospects for a second term as Governor of Rhode Island are looking pretty dim. Only 33% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing to 59% who disapprove. That ties him for the second most unpopular Governor in the country in our polling- the only person with worse numbers is Pat Quinn of Illinois.
Chafee does poorly in numerous scenarios we tested for next year's Gubernatorial race:
-In four different scenarios testing four candidates- either Gina Raimondo or Angel Taveras on the Democratic side, either Brendan Doherty or Allan Fung on the Republican side, Chafee running as an independent, and Moderate Party candidate Ken Block- Chafee finishes third in every single one, running behind both the Democratic and Republican candidates.
-In two scenarios testing Chafee as the Democratic candidate he finishes second, running 4 points behind the Republican candidates we tested, Brendan Doherty and Allan Fung.
-It would be difficult for Chafee to become the Democratic candidate anyway though. 35% of Democratic primary voters want Gina Raimondo to be their candidate next year to just 22% for Chafee, 19% for Angel Taveras, and 11% for Ernie Almonte.
Overall 57% of voters don't want Chafee to seek reelection next year. 20% want him to run as an independent and 18% think he should run for election again as a Democrat.
The early front runner in next year's race is Raimondo. In addition to leading the Democratic primary field, she also leads every general election scenario we tested. She leads Brendan Doherty by 4 points and Allan Fung by 12 points in four way contests with Chafee in the picture as an independent. When you take Chafee out of the picture Raimondo leads Doherty by 12 points and Fung by 19 points in three way contests. 57% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Raimondo, and her popularity holds true across party lines. Majorities of independents (63/19), Democrats (53/23), and Republicans (52/23) all have a positive opinion of her.
Depending on how the field plays out Republicans should have a chance to be competitive in this race. Both Fung (55/14) and Doherty (45/32) have pretty strong statewide favorability numbers. There are a lot of states that are a lot more red than Rhode Island where Republicans don't have candidates that popular they can run for statewide office.
The other main finding on our Rhode Island poll is that voters in the state strongly support legalizing gay marriage- 57% support it to 36% who are opposed. When we polled the state on this issue in February 2011 there was 50/41 support for it, and the 12 point increase in the margin in favor of same sex marriage reflects the national movement on this issue over the last few years. Among Rhode Islanders under the age of 45 there's 65/31 support on the issue. Looking more broadly at legal rights for same sex couples 85% of voters, including 75% of Republicans, at least support civil unions.
Full results here