Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jul 2005
Source: Pawtucket Times (RI)
Copyright: 2005 The Pawtucket Times
Author: Jim Baron
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Islanders sympathize with seriously ill people 
who want to use marijuana to ease their symptoms, but not child-care 
providers who are seeking to unionize.

Those are some of the results of a recent poll by Brown University 
Professor Darrell West, who also found a tight early race for U.S. 
Senate between incumbent Republican Lincoln Chafee and Democratic 
challenger Sheldon Whitehouse. He also found Republican Gov. Donald 
Carcieri maintaining a comfortable lead in his re-election bid over 
Democratic Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty.

The survey of 470 registered voters in Rhode Islanders was conducted 
in the last week of June and has a margin of error of plus or minus 
4.5 percent.

Sixty-seven percent of those polled said they favor legislation to 
legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, 22 percent said 
they were opposed and only 9 percent said they did not know or gave no answer.

Both chambers of the General Assembly have approved legislation that 
would permit people with certain serious diseases or ailments, but it 
was vetoed by Carcieri, who said the rules crafted are too loose and 
will allow children greater access to the illegal drug. The Senate 
has voted to override the governor's veto and the House is expected 
to do the same within the next several weeks.

The governor is faring much better in the court of public opinion, 
according to West's findings.

Not only is Carcieri holding a 48-39 percent lead over Fogarty, his 
only announced opponent, but he has a 55-34 percent lead among 
independent voters. His job approval rating is also holding steady at 
57 percent saying Carcieri is doing an excellent (21 percent) or good 
(36) job with 40 percent saying he is doing and only fair (25) or 
poor (15) job.

That 57 percent approval, West said, "is very good for someone in the 
third year of his term."

If there is a concern for Carcieri, it's in the 43 percent of Rhode 
Islanders who think the state is on the right track as opposed to the 
44 percent who say it is going in the wrong direction. Those numbers, 
West explained, mean that Ocean Staters believe that "the economy is 
still soft and people are a little worried, but they haven't tied 
that issue to the governor."

The governor is winning on some issues he has claimed as his own, however.

When asked whether the state should have to negotiate pay and working 
conditions with home-based providers who provide state-subsidized 
child care for low-income families, however, only 36 percent said 
yes, and 51 percent said no. Ten percent gave no answer.

The state legislature also passed a bill to allow the child care 
providers to unionize and Carcieri has vetoed that as well. But 
prospects for an override are less clear on the child care bill, 
which passed with fewer than the three-fifths vote required to 
override the governor's objection.

"The newspaper headlines were not positive for the child care 
workers," West said when asked about the numbers in his poll. "It's 
been continuing and public opinion tilted against them. People don't 
favor unionization." He noted that Carcieri played a lead role in 
mobilizing public opinion by making the child care unionization one 
of his principal issues.

Carcieri also got a 55 percent ratification from those polled on his 
pension reform effort, specifically for setting a minimum retirement 
age for new state workers and public school teachers. Thirty-two 
percent said they are opposed and 11 percent had no answer. cent with 
12 percent declining to answer.

In the closely-watched early race for the U.S. Senate, West's poll 
finds Whitehouse within five percentage points of Chafee, 41 to 36 
percent. Chafee does better against Democratic Secretary of State 
Matt Brown, scoring 44 percent to Brown's 29 percent.

Poll results at this point in a race - the Senate election won't be 
held until November, 2006 - can be important to a candidate's flow of 
money, West said.

"A survey provides a snapshot of a point in time that fund-raisers 
take seriously," West told The Times. "If someone is doing well, he 
or she will find it easier to raise money, if not, they will have a 
tougher sales job."

West said this poll signals a competitive race.
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MAP posted-by: Beth