Governor Gina Raimondo's approval rating has increased 10 points in the latest poll by a Washington, D.C., firm, although she still ranks among the lower tier of the nation's governors.
Morning Consult shows Raimondo with a 48 percent approval rating, while 45 percent of respondents disapprove of her. Six percent didn't offer a response, and the finding has a five percentage point margin of error.
The 48 percent approval rating for Raimondo marks an improvement for the governor since a Morning Consult poll released last September. That one showed that just 38 percent of respondents approved of Democrat Raimondo, while 55 percent disapproved. Yet Raimondo is among 15 governors whose approval ratings are below 50 percent.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker placed first in the latest Morning Consult poll, with a 75 percent approval rating.
Among other New England governors, Vermont's Phil Scott came in at 68 percent; New Hampshire's Chris Sununu placed at 55 percent; Raimondo and Maine's Paul LePage came in at 48 percent (although his disapproval rating is 49 percent); and Connecticut's Dan Malloy placed at 29 percent.
In a statement, Raimondo spokesman Michael Raia offered this comment on the poll results: “Governor Raimondo remains laser-focused on creating jobs and improving Rhode Island’s economy. The Rhode Islanders she talks to in coffee shops across the state are encouraged that businesses have added 15,000 jobs since the 2014 election and that Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is below the national average for the first time since 2005.
"There will always be more work to do," Raia continued. "Governor Raimondo is determined to make college more affordable and job training more accessible so that every Rhode Islander has an opportunity to compete for the jobs businesses are creating.”
Raimondo is expected to seek re-election next year, although she has not formally announced her campaign.
The Republican Governors Association has started criticizing Raimondo and her record.
In a missive this week, the RGA said, "With over 18 months until election day, Gina Raimondo is already running in full gear for reelection. She and her national Democrat backers are clearly worried about her chances, and with good reason. Under Raimondo, Rhode Island has been ranked the worst state for business, lags behind pre-recession employment, and remains unable to address systemic issues at its Department of Human Services. Voters will remember these issues come 2018, and no matter how hard Raimondo and her allies try to cover her failures now, they know who is responsible."
Raimondo won the governor's office by beating Republican Allan Fung, the mayor of Cranston, by slightly more than four points in 2014. Fung is expected to pursue a rematch in 2018. Other Republicans considering a run for governor include former state rep. Joe Trillo of Warwick and businessman Giovanni Feroce.
In a Morning Consult ranking of U.S. senators, Jack Reed came in with a 63 percent approval rating and a 21 percent disapproval rating. The comparable numbers for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse are 59 percent and 28 percent.
Like Raimondo, Whitehouse faces re-election next year. State Rep. Robert Nardolillo (R-Coventry) is set to announce a challenge to Whitehouse next month, and former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders is considering a run.