PROVIDENCE – Nearly one in three likely general election voters say the cost of living is the single-most important issue in the Rhode Island governor’s race, far ahead of other pressing matters like education and health care, according to a new Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll.
The survey of 800 likely voters in the race shows that 32.5 percent identified the cost of living as the top issue in the race, a sign that the national inflation crisis and increases costs at the gas pump and the grocery story are taking their toll on Rhode Islanders.
Most voters also said they’ve had to cut back on common spending habits, including going out to eat, purchasing clothes, and driving.
“This economy is hitting the poorest people the worst, and it’s really sad,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
The cellphone and landline poll was conducted June 19 to June 22 by Suffolk, and the margin of error among general election voters was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Aside from the cost of living, education (12.2 percent) and health care (10.5 percent) were the only other issues that registered more than 10 percent support as a top issue in the race for governor. They were followed by gun safety (9 percent), housing (7.9 percent), abortion rights (6.5 percent), public safety (5.8 percent), employment (4.8 percent), and opioids (1.2 percent). Nearly 10 percent of voters said they were undecided on the top issue in the race.
While cost of living ranked as the top issue across political party lines, the survey shows that only 20 percent of Democrats ranked it first, while 48 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of independents place it ahead of the other issues.
When it comes to altering spending habits, more than 60 percent of voters said they are cutting back on clothes shopping (65.7 percent) and going out to eat (63.1 percent), while 59.6 percent said they are trying to drive less because of the price of gas.
More than half of voters, 52.5 percent, said they have postponed or canceled vacation plans or traveling in order to save money, while 52.8 percent said they cutting back spending on groceries. Nearly half of the voters (49 percent) said they are cutting back on subscriptions or services.
As the poll was conducted, respondents offered personal examples of how their spending habits have changed, Paleologos said.
“People were sharing stories about going to generic brands at supermarkets,” he said. “People were also saying they’re timing out the errands they run because of gas prices.”
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