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Rhode Island Senate Race


Lincoln Chafee (R)*
Bio | Campaign Site

Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Bio | Campaign Site
RealClearPolitics Snapshot
RCP Ranking: Toss Up
Governor Race: Carcieri (R)* vs. Fogerty (D)

Polling Data
PollDateSampleChafee (R)Whitehouse (D)Und.Spread
USA Today/Gallup11/01 - 11/04880 LV45487Whitehouse +3.0
Mason-Dixon10/31 - 11/01625 LV46459Chafee +1.0
Reuters/Zogby10/24 - 10/31600 LV39536Whitehouse +14.0
Rhode Island College10/23 - 10/25408 RV334324Whitehouse +10.0
Mason-Dixon10/18 - 10/20625 LV43489Whitehouse +5.0
Rasmussen10/19 - 10/19500 LV44522Whitehouse +8.0
Fleming10/11 - 10/14402 LV424612Whitehouse +4.0
Rasmussen10/04 - 10/04500 LV42516Whitehouse +9.0
Rhode Island College10/02 - 10/04459 RV374023Whitehouse +3.0
Reuters/Zogby09/25 - 10/02601 LV414513Whitehouse +4.0
USA Today/Gallup09/27 - 10/01699 LV39508Whitehouse +11.0
Mason-Dixon09/25 - 09/28625 LV414217Whitehouse +1.0
American Res. Group09/15 - 09/19600 LV404515Whitehouse +5.0
Brown University09/16 - 09/18578 LV394021Whitehouse +1.0
Rasmussen09/13 - 09/13500 LV43513Whitehouse +8.0
Rasmussen08/23 - 08/23500 LV42446Whitehouse +2.0
Fleming08/16 - 08/21401 RV434215Chafee +1.0
Rasmussen08/03 - 08/03500 LV384411Whitehouse +6.0
Rasmussen07/11 - 07/11500 LV41467Whitehouse +5.0
Brown University06/24 - 06/26719 RV373825Whitehouse +1.0
Rhode Island College06/14 - 06/14406 RV434017Chafee +3.0
Rasmussen06/05 - 06/05500 LV44428Chafee +2.0
Rasmussen04/26 - 04/26500 LV444110Chafee +3.0
Rhode Island College04/17 - 04/20364 RV513217Chafee +19.0
Brown University02/04 - 02/06785 RV403426Chafee +6.0
Rasmussen01/24 - 01/24500 LV50388Chafee +12.0
Brown University09/10 - 09/11449 RV382537Chafee +13.0
Brown University06/25 - 06/27470 RV413622Chafee +5.0
RealClearPolitics Analysis

(November 5) Yesterday we moved Chafee to Leans Democrat from Likely Democrat after accumulating reports from Rhode Island that the Chafee camp was increasingly optimistic about their chances of pulling this race out, but the Mason-Dixon poll this morning showing Chafee up a point is a shocker. If this is at all confirmed by any other polling this race has to be considered a toss up.

(October 8) Chafee looks to be in real trouble. He needs to get his RCP Average up to 45%, and soon. We’re skeptical in his ability to do that given he hasn’t polled above 45% in a single poll over the last five months. The general negativity toward President Bush in New England looks to be too much for Chafee to over come this election. The best news he has going for him is Mason-Dixon remains one of the best firms at state polling and they have this race only a one point contest.

(September 13) Chafee's win yesterday is good news for GOP chances of holding the Senate, as the more conservative Laffey would have had no chance of winning the general in November. In our pre-primary analysis we suggested that a "solid win" by Chafee would be good news for GOP prospects of holding this seat. And while 54% - 46% is certainly not an overwhelming result in a primary for an incumbent Senator, given the trends we have seen of incumbents going down in neighboring Connecticut and then earlier this year in Pennsylvania state races, we would characterize last night's margin as a "solid" result for Chafee. Fellow Northeastern, moderate Arlen Specter scraped by in his primary two years ago, 51% - 49%.

As the head-on-head polling with state Attorney General Whitehouse indicates (Chafee leads by 0.3% in the latest RCP Average), this race now looks to be a clear toss-up with roughly 50 days remaining. Chafee will get a boost both from his win and the manner in which he won. The fact that hard-core conservatives may be mad with him is not exactly a negative heading into a general election this year in Rhode Island. However, this is clearly a Democratic state in a part of the country where anti-Bush sentiment runs extremely high. Chafee will have to run the better campaign to win.

(September 6) One of our reasons for listing this as Leans Democrat is the very real possibility that Chafee doesn’t even make it to the general election contest against Whitehouse. Two new polls taken Monday-Wednesday last week are all over the map, with a Rhode Island College survey giving Laffey a 17 point lead (51% - 34%) and POS survey indicating Chafee ahead by 14 (53% - 39%). Let’s just say that it looks like it is going to be close, with a Laffey win, guaranteeing a Democratic pickup, and even if Chafee holds on we suspect he will be hobbled going into the general. A solid Chafee win next Tuesday, would be good news for GOP prospects of holding this seat. (The POS poll was done for the NRSC, which is not good news for Chafee.)

(August 20) Senator Chafee is still engaged in a primary battle against Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey that will be held September 12. Chafee is favored to win the primary, though it is not a foregone conclusion. Laffey has no chance of winning the general election against former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.

This race doesn’t garner as much attention as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Montana, but with Santorum closing hard early in PA (though still trailing), Chafee might suddenly be the most vulnerable Senate incumbent. Even though he is by far the most liberal member of the GOP Senate caucus, the intensity of the anti-Bush sentiment in New England -- that Lamont’s win in the Connecticut primary is testament to -- will make his reelection a very hard sell to Rhode Island’s overwhelming Democratic electorate.

Previous Election Results

2000: Chafee 57, Weygand 41
1994: Chafee* 65, Kushner 35
(*'94 race was Lincoln Chafee's father, John Chafee)

2004: Kerry 59, Bush 39
2000: Gore 61, Bush 32
1996: Clinton 60, Dole 27


Occupation: Blue Collar 22.9% | White Collar 61.1% | Gray Collar 16.0%

Race: White 81.9% | Hispanic 8.7% | Black 4.0% | Asian 2.2%

Links for More Information

Money Race: Latest FEC Filings

Blogs: Anchor Rising | Rhode Island's Future | Newport 9 | Rhode Island Senate Central

State Newspaper Coverage: Providence Journal | Pawtucket Times

State Parties: RI GOP | RI Dems

All Commentary & News Stories
- Steele Speaking Out, Chafee's Last Defection - Robert Novak, Chicago ST
- RI: Anti-Bush Mood Dooms Chafee, Ends Family's 30-Year Run - Providence Journal
- RI: A Whirlwind Senate Race Finally Winds Down Today - Providence Journal
- RI: Voters Go to the Polls for Chafee and Whitehouse - Boston Herald
- RI: Campaigns Go Traditional in Last Days - Providence Journal
- RI: Doctor Unveils Deal to not Fault Hospital or Whitehouse - Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee Taps His Fortune Again - Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee Takes Jab at Sen. Harry Reid - The Hill
- RI: Whitehouse, Chafee Fighting to the Finish - Providence Journal
- RI: Anti-war Chafee in Tight Race - Washington Times
- RI: Schumer Boosts Whitehouse - Providence Journal
- R.I. Senate Race: Purely About Party - Froma Harrop, Providence Journal
- RI: High Stakes for Chafee, Whitehouse - Hartford Courant
- RI: Chafee's Foe Saves Attacks for Bush - Boston Globe
- RI: Chafee Trys to Recover From Primary - Associated Press
- GOP Running Against a Stiff Northern Wind - Los Angeles Times
- RI: Whitehouse Winning the Senate Money Race - Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee's Day: McCain a Plus, Hastert a Minus - Providence Journal
- Rumble in Rhode Island for the Senate - Lee Hudson Teslik, Newsweek
- RI: Senate Rivals Bound by Dads, History - Associated Press
- RI: Poll Shows Republican Agenda Weak In State - NBC News
- RI: Chafee Votes Against U.S.-Mexico Border Fence - Associated Press
- RI: Senate Fight Takes to the Air - Providence Journal
- Who's Against John Bolton? - Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times
- It's Hard to Tell a Conservative From a Liberal - John Stossel, RCP
- Rove Wins One in Rhode Island - Edward Achorn, Providence Journal
- RI: Dem Senators Campaign to Have Whitehouse Join Their Ranks - Providence Journal
- RI: Dems Lose in Chafee Victory - Washington Times
- Inside Report: Dems Against Chafee - Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times
- Survival Is No Cakewalk for Moderates - Los Angeles Times
- Tuesday Voters Show Prudence at the Polls - Washington Post
- RI: Balance of Power is Both Cause and Effect of Senate Primary - The Hill
- Chafee Saved by Strange Alliance - Froma Harrop, Providence Journal
- Roundtable on Chafee Loss, Plame Leak - Special Report w/ Brit Hume
- Chafee Wins in Setback for Democrats - New York Times
- Chafee's Win a Boost to Senate GOP - The RCP Blog
- Chafee Win Gives GOP Reasons to Smile - Perry Bacon, Jr., Time
- Can Embattled Chafee Survive Primary? - Christian Science Monitor
- RI: Laffey Runs 'Outsider' Campaign - The Hill
- RI: A Tussle For Senate's Most Liberal Republican - USA Today
- RI: Seat on the Line in GOP Primary - Washington Times
- RI: Brash GOP Challenger Presses Chafee - Boston Globe
- Chafee, Laffey Pulling Out All the Stops - Providence Journal
- RI: Race May Be Key to Senate - Los Angeles Times
- RI: To Hold Senate, G.O.P. Bolsters Its Most Liberal - New York Times
- RI: Chafee in Primary Fight of His Life - McClatchy Newspapers
- RI: GOP Sticks With Chafee in Primary - Houston Chronicle
- RI: Move Against Bolton May Backfire on Chafee - New York Sun
- RI: Chafee, Laffey Primary is a Nail Biter - Providence Journal
- Chafee & Bolton, Iraq & Al Qaeda - Special Report w/ Brit Hume
- Republican Candidates Up Criticism of Sec. Rumsfeld - The Hill
- Lieberman Redux in Rhode Island? - Ruth Marcus, Washington Post
- RI: National GOP Investing Heavily in Chafee's Reelection Bid - Providence Journal
- RI: Which One's In the Lead? Pick Your Poll - Providence Journal
- GOP Kisses Up to Liberal Chafee - Walter Shapiro, Salon
- GOP Should Appreciate Its Moderates - Froma Harrop, Providence Journal
- Laffey Says He Regrets Writing Anti-gay Columns in College - Boston Globe/AP
- RI: Chafee Faces A Feisty Conservative Challenger - Washington Post
- A Gathering Anti-Incumbent Storm? - Jeff Greenfield, CNN
- RI: Chafee, Laffey in Televised Debate - Providence Journal
- Scott MacKay on R.I. GOP Senate Primary (Video) - Washington Journal
- RI: Chafee-Laffey Campaign Moves into Prime Time - Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee, GOP Rival Swap Salvos - Washington Times
- Laffey Running Against the Big Shots - Joe Klein, Time
- Rebellion by Base Roils a Republican Race - Wall Street Journal
- Chafee vs. Laffey - Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal
- RI Senate Poll: Whitehouse (D) 44% Chaffee (R) 38% - Rasmussen Reports
- The Last of the Liberal Republicans? - Tom Curry, MSNBC
- RI Senate Poll: Whitehouse (D) 46% Chafee (R) 41% - Rasmussen Reports
- RI: NRSC Goes After Laffey with Filing - The Hill
- RI Senate Poll: Whitehouse (D) 38% Chafee (R) 37% - Brown University
- RI: PAC Calls for Laffey Withdrawal; Chafee Files as Republican - The Hill
- RI Senate Poll: Chafee (R) 43% Whitehouse (D) 40% - Rhode Island College
- RI: McCain Campaigns for Chafee - Associated Press
- RI Senate Poll: Chafee Still Struggling - Rasmussen Reports
- RI Poll: GOP Incumbents Struggle in Blue State - Rasmussen Reports
- RI: Chafee (R) 51% Whitehouse (D) 32% - Rhode Island College
- RI: Brown's Strategy Failed to Pay - Providence Journal
- RI: Matt Brown Quits Senate Race - Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee Behind His Senate Rivals in Fundraising - Washington Times
- RI: For Chafee, a Bumpy Nov. Trail - Washington Post
- RI: Senate Bid Drawing Big Money Into State - Providence Journal
- Dems Can't Let GOP Moderates Slide - Froma Harrop, Providence Journal
- RI: Chafee Refuses to Rule Out Voting to Censure Bush - Providence Journal
- RI: Senate Candidate Brown Heads to California to Raise Funds - Associated Press