Ted Nesi highlights something in the recent Hassenfeld Institute poll that may be worth a deeper investigation:
The poll also showed that for the first time in years, more Rhode Islanders think the state is moving in the right direction than in the wrong direction, with 42% of voters saying it’s headed in the right direction, 36% saying it’s headed in the wrong direction, and 16% unsure.
Nesi combines the Hassenfeld results from the last couple of years with prior polls asking the same question on WPRI’s behalf to show that Rhode Islanders’ outlook has improved since 2010, when it was about 70% wrong track, 12% right track, to statistically even, now, at around 40%.
I wonder what effect population change has had on these numbers. Every year for the past 12, something like 20,000 to 30,000 Rhode Islanders have left for other states. Smaller numbers of people have moved here from other states. Over a decade, though, that’s an exchange or loss of about one-quarter of the whole population. If we assume people coming will have a more positive view than those leaving, that could have a big effect on a question like right-track/wrong-track.
It’d be interesting if pollsters would start asking how long survey respondents have lived in Rhode Island. The cross-tabs might be telling. New arrivals might skew the results positive, or those who’ve been here a while might be comparing our current stagnation with the huge deterioration of the last decade.