RI Senate: Toss-up with Chafee, Democrat Landslide with Laffee

Rasmussen‘s latest poll finds that incumbent Lincoln Chaffee is now in a dead heat with Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. If, however, Stephen Laffey upsets Chafee in the primary, Whitehouse wins easily.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee (R ) has pulled to within two points of challenger Sheldon Whitehouse in his bid for re-election. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll in Rhode Island shows Whitehouse earning support from 44% of voters while Chafee attracts 42%. Whitehouse had a six point lead last month.

Based upon this poll we are shifting the Rhode Island Senate race from “Leans Democrat” to “Toss-Up” in our Senate Balance of Power ratings. Rhode Island is the fifth race in the Toss-Up category.

RI Senate:  Toss-up with Chaffee, Democrat Landslide with Laffee Though he has his sights set on Whitehouse, Chafee must first face off against his primary challenger, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey. The Providence Journal reports that Chafee has outspent Laffey $2.85 million to $1.18 million thus far as they head toward the September 12 showdown. The Whitehouse campaign will be cheering for Laffey on primary night, as the current poll shows Whitehouse leading that potential head-to-head contest 58% to 31%.

If Laffey defeats Chafee in the Republican Primary, this race will immediately be shifted to the Democrats column in our Senate Balance of Power ratings.

Now, I understand why groups like Club for Growth would prefer Laffee to Chafee, aside from a slightly-easier-to-spell name. What I don’t understand is why they’d prefer Whitehouse–and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chair Teddy Kennedy, and so forth–to Chafee.

via Taegan Goddard

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2006, Public Opinion Polls, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. little chance that Laffey, a conservative, can win in one of the nation’s most liberal states. If Chafee does win the primary, he will still face a strong challenge from Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Polls show a race between Chafee and Whitehouse a deadheat. Rhode Island is one of the seats Democrats most want to win, so they will pour millions into Whitehouse’s candidacy. If Republicans are interested in retaining the Senate, voting for Chafee is the smart thing to do, if not the most pleasing.

  2. While I too would prefer Laffey to Chafee or Whitehouse in a perfect world, reality says that the alternative to Chafee is not Laffey but Whitehouse. So I guy who votes with you 30 to 40% of the time is preferable to one who would never vote with you.

  3. Adam Herman says:

    Because idiotic people on the right are mimicking the idiotic people on the left(with Lieberman) and trying to purge Chaffee.

    The fact is, Chaffee is the best the GOP can do in Rhode Island. Conservatives need to accept that and move on. I’m not saying you should never support primary challenges, but save it for Republicans who are to the left of their electorate.

    THe liberals actually played it smart with Lieberman. Get a more left-wing candidate in there because Connecticut is a liberal state. If Lieberman hadn’t declared an independent candidacy, they would have gotten away with it too. You don’t see them trying that crap in Nebraska with Ben Nelson. Conservatives shouldn’t be trying it in Rhode Island with Chaffee.

  4. MetaDC says:

    Things You Should Know About This Morning: 9/6…

    -So, how important is Bin Laden, exactly? -Why isn’t Lincoln Chaffee getting more support? -The secret hold won’t die. -The White House is preparing to lose the House. -Olbermann is at it again. -I’m in a literary mood today…….