|Poll||Date||Sample||Hinckley (R)||Whitehouse (D)||Spread|
|Final Results||--||--||35.0||64.8||Whitehouse +29.8|
|WPRI/Fleming||10/24 - 10/27||601 LV||33||55||Whitehouse +22|
|Brown University||9/26 - 10/5||471 LV||30||59||Whitehouse +29|
|WPRI/Fleming||9/26 - 9/29||501 LV||30||56||Whitehouse +26|
|WPRI/Fleming||2/20 - 2/23||511 RV||28||50||Whitehouse +22|
Rhode Island, our nation's smallest state, is also probably the most heavily Democratic. The switch to Democratic dominance came abruptly in 1935, when the "bloodless revolution" broke the back of the Republican machine: Democrats declared the state Supreme Court and other state institutions still dominated by Republicans vacant, eliminating the inertia that slowed realignment. Republicans intermittently controlled the state Senate into the 1950s, but the House and U.S. Senate seats were almost exclusively Democratic from there on out.
Despite this strong tilt, Republicans managed to hold one of Rhode Island's Senate seats from 1976 through 2006; Sheldon Whitehouse then defeated liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee in a race that few observers expected to be competitive at the beginning of that year. Whitehouse has cut a low profile in Washington, and his voting record reflects the state's liberal inclinations reasonably well. Businessman Barry Hinckley is unlikely to defeat him.