WPRI Poll Confirms RI Blueness
I know, dog bites man. The WPRI Poll–particularly with regards to the Presidential race and the approval ratings for President Obama–simply confirm what we know to be true. Democrats are the majority party in the state and they march in lockstep more than either Republicans or (by definition, I suppose) Independents.
WPRI sampled 501 voters statewide, with a party breakdown of 41/40/17 Democrat/Independent/Republican. In raw numbers, that translated to about 206/200/85, respectively. Breaking the poll down by party ID, we see that 93.1% of Democrats (192 voters) will select President Obama as will 11.6% of Republicans (10 voters) and 41.7% of Independents (83 voters). Governor Romney will receive 84.9% of the Republican vote (72 voters), 3.9% of the Democrats (8 voters) and 41.7% of the Independent vote (83 voters). The undecided breakdown is 2%/2.3%/13.6% (D/R/I). Clearly, the party advantage held by the Democrats is the difference. Duh.
The same is seen in the Presidential approval ratings. Overall, President Obama receives a 55.2% Excellent/Good rating and the party breakdown shows 77.3% of Democrats give him a Good/Excellent rating (159 of 206 Democrat voters) while 12.8% of Republicans (11 of 85 GOP voters) and 36.2% of Independents (72 of 200 Indy voters) do likewise.
Again, it’s all about party advantage in the raw numbers because when we look at Republicans and Independents combined we see that about 71% of them (202 of the 285 GOP/Indy vote) gave the President Poor/Fair ratings. Of that, 43.5% gave him a “poor” rating (124 of the 285).
What to make of it? It’s pretty clear that the 3 primary self-identified groups (Dem/GOP/Indy) are really no different in Rhode Island than they are nationally in how rate the President and plan to vote. It’s just that there are so many more Democrats in Rhode Island–the blue social/political model, indeed–that it’s an uphill climb for non-Democrats to succeed politically.
In Rhode Island, demography is pretty much destiny because “Democrat” is the default position. It’s important to keep that in mind when looking at local and Congressional/Senate races. The only strategy is to lock in the “3rd party” GOP vote and really work to appeal to the self-described Independents. That’s what Brendan Doherty is trying to do in CD-1, and while he has a lead among independents, CD-1 is much more heavily Democratic than the state as a whole. Michael Riley has a different challenge with Jim Langevin because, well, Jim Langevin is certainly no David Cicilline. Right now Riley is losing 25% of the Republican vote to his Democratic opponent, never mind trying to get the Independent vote (amongst whom Independent Abel Collins is running at 13%, incidentally).
Will Rhode Island ever turn at least Purple? Well, it is interesting that among the age co-horts (18-39; 40-59; 60+), President Obama received the fewest amount of “votes” (54.8%) and has the lowest approval (50% good/excellent) amongst those 18-39. (Update: as Ted Nesi tweeted, Riley is also winning amongst 18-39 year olds in CD-2). So maybe this shows that the demography is changing in the state as the younger cohort may be a little less Democrat-by-default. Well, at least until they get fed up and move away.