PROVIDENCE – More than 40 percent of likely Rhode Island voters say the cost of living is the most important issue in the race for governor, a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll found, far outpacing other issues like abortion rights, education, housing, and health care.
The survey of 800 likely voters shows 44 percent of voters now consider cost of living the top issue in the race, up nearly 12 percentage points from June, when a Globe/Suffolk poll found that 32.5 percent of voters picked cost of living as their top issue.
In June, education (12.2 percent) and health care (10.5 percent) were the second and third most important issues to voters, followed by abortion rights (7 percent). Now, abortion rights (15 percent) and education (13 percent) are the only other issues that registered with double-digit support.
Housing (9 percent), health care (8 percent), and gun safety (5 percent) rounded out the other top issues in the latest poll, while 3 percent of voters said they were undecided and 3 percent answered “other” as their main issue.
The live caller cellphone and landline poll, released Tuesday, was conducted Oct. 1 to Oct. 4 by Suffolk University, and the margin of error among likely general election voters was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
In a separate question on current economic conditions of the state, 43 percent of voters said it was “fair,” 39 percent said “poor,” 16 percent said “good,” and 1 percent said “excellent.” Only 2 percent said they were undecided.
Now, the cost of living is considered the top issue among almost every subgroup in the poll, although it is tied at with abortion rights at 25 percent among Democrats. Black voters said they consider education the most important issue, with cost of living coming in second place.
Incumbent Democratic Governor Dan McKee leads his Republican challenger Ashley Kalus 46 percent to 36 percent, but the poll shows Kalus leads 56 percent to 30 percent among voters who say cost of living is their most important issue.
McKee benefits from holding a large lead over Kalus on every other issue, including a 70 percent to 13 percent margin on abortion rights. Since winning the Democratic primary, McKee and the Democrats have consistently run ads pointing out that Kalus identifies as pro-life.
Read more analysis of the latest poll data here.