United States Senate election in Rhode Island, 2006

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United States Senate election in Rhode Island, 2006
Rhode Island
2000 ←
November 7, 2006
→ 2012

  Senwhitehouse.jpg Lincoln Chafee official portrait.jpg
Nominee Sheldon Whitehouse Lincoln Chafee
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 206,109 179,001
Percentage 53.5% 46.5%

Rhode Island Senatorial Election Results by municipality, 2006.png

Municipal results

U.S. Senator before election

Lincoln Chafee
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse
Democratic

The 2006 United States Senate election in Rhode Island was held on November 7, 2006. The election was won by Sheldon Whitehouse whose term in the United States Senate will run from January 3, 2007, to January 3, 2013. [1] Republican Lincoln Chafee was seeking re-election to the seat he had held since 1999, when he was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of his father John Chafee. Lincoln Chaffee won election to the seat in 2000.

Democratic primary[edit]

Candidates[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Whitehouse was endorsed by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Congressmen Jim Langevin and Patrick J. Kennedy, as well as by former candidate Matt Brown. Sheeler, a former U.S. Marine, a business owner, and an adjunct professor of business, ran on a more progressive platform. Ultimately, however, Whitehouse would trounce his competition in the primary on September 12, winning his party's support by a large margin.

Results[edit]

Democratic primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sheldon Whitehouse 69,290 81.53%
Democratic Christopher F. Young 8,939 10.52%
Democratic Carl Sheeler 6,755 7.95%
Totals 84,984 100.00%

Republican primary[edit]

Candidates[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee was one of the most liberal member of the Republican Party in the Senate by 2006, and was challenged for the Republican nomination by Laffey who had criticized Chafee for his liberal voting record in the Senate. In early 2006, the Club for Growth, a pro-tax cut political action committee, sent a series of mailings to Rhode Island Republicans attacking Chafee's positions and voting record.

The national GOP supported Chafee in the primary campaign, believing that he was the most likely candidate to hold the seat in the general election. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John McCain of Arizona and Laura Bush appeared at fundraisers for Chafee, while Senator Bill Frist's PAC donated to Chafee. The National Republican Senatorial Committee also ran ads in the state supporting Chafee. Steve Laffey, however, picked up many endorsements from Republican town committees throughout Rhode Island, the national group Club for Growth, and former candidate for the party's Presidential nomination Steve Forbes. On July 10, 2006, the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Laffey, saying that he had included a political communication in tax bills mailed to residents of Cranston. [3]

Polling[edit]

Source Date Chafee Laffey
RNSC/Public Opinion Strategies August 30, 2006 53% 39%
Rhode Island College August 28-30, 2006 34% 51%
Rhode Island College June, 2006 39% 38%
Club for Growth/National Research Inc. June 2, 2006 45% 44%
American Research Group May 5, 2006 48% 39%
Rhode Island College April, 2006 56% 28%

Results[edit]

Republican primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Lincoln Chafee (inc.) 34,936 54.18%
Republican Steve Laffey 29,547 45.82%
Totals 64,483 100.00%

General election[edit]

Candidates[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Democrats believed that this was one of the most likely Senate seats to switch party control, due to the Democratic tilt of Rhode Island, as well as the fact that Chafee needed to expend part of his campaign fund to win the Republican primary election. Chafee's approval ratings also took a beating from his primary battle with Laffey and may have hurt him in the general election. Another factor that hurt Chafee was the fact that Whitehouse, the Democratic nominee, had a huge head start on him, as he was able to campaign with little opposition for at least half the year and had not had to contend with a major opponent until the general election campaign. Rhode Islanders' historically large disapproval ratings for President Bush and the Republican Party as a whole was another major hurdle for Chafee.

Issues[edit]

Whitehouse and Chafee very rarely disagree on political issues. Socially, they agree almost 100% of the time. Chafee is against the Bush tax cuts, indicating his ideology is liberal-leaning. On some fiscal issues they disagree such as on social security and free trade.

  • Abortion
    • Chafee - pro-choice
    • Whitehouse - pro-choice
  • Stem-Cell research
    • Chafee - support
    • Whitehouse - support
  • Death penalty
    • Chafee - strongly opposes
    • Whitehouse - support in federal level, but not in state level
  • Gay Marriage
    • Chafee - supports
    • Whitehouse - supports
  • Privatizing Social Security
    • Chafee - Partially Supports
    • Whitehouse - Strongly Against
  • Bush Tax Cuts
    • Chafee - Strongly against
    • Whitehouse - strongly against
  • Vouchers
    • Chafee - rated 55% by NEA, representing a mixed record
    • Whitehouse - strongly against
  • Federal Spending on Health Care
    • Chafee - strongly supports
    • Whitehouse - strongly supports
  • PATRIOT Act
    • Chafee - supports
    • Whitehouse - against
  • Free Trade
    • Chafee - supports
    • Whitehouse - against

[1] [5]

Polling[edit]

Source Date Whitehouse (D) Chafee (R)
USA Today/Gallup November 5, 2006 48% 45%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC November 5, 2006 45% 46%
Reuters/Zogby November 2, 2006 53% 39%
Rhode Island College October 27, 2006 51% 43%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC October 24, 2006 48% 43%
Rasmussen October 19, 2006 50% 42%
Fleming & Associates October 19, 2006 46% 42%
Rhode Island College October 10, 2006 40% 37%
Rasmussen October 10, 2006 49% 39%
USA Today/Gallup October 6, 2006 50% 39%
Reuters/Zogby October 5, 2006 45% 41%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC October 2, 2006 42% 41%
American Research Group September 19, 2006 45% 40%
Brown University September 16-18, 2006 40% 39%
Rasmussen September 17, 2006 51% 43%
Rasmussen September 3, 2006 44% 42%
Fleming & Associates August 24, 2006 42% 43%
Rasmussen August 9, 2006 44% 38%
Rasmussen July 18, 2006 46% 41%
Brown University June 26, 2006 38% 37%
Rhode Island College June 21, 2006 40% 43%
Rasmussen June 5, 2006 42% 44%
Rasmussen May 4, 2006 41% 44%
Rhode Island College April, 2006 32% 51%
Rasmussen February 11, 2006 38% 50%
Brown University February 8, 2006 34% 40%
Brown University Sept. 13, 2005 25% 38%

Results[edit]

Results by county
United States Senate election in Rhode Island, 2006[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Sheldon Whitehouse 206,043 53.52% +12.37%
Republican Lincoln Chafee (Incumbent) 178,950 46.48% -10.40%
Majority 27,093 7.04% -8.69%
Turnout 384,993
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

Analysis[edit]

Whitehouse carried Providence County, which contains approximately 60% of the state's population, with 59% to Chafee's 41%. Chafee's strongest showing was in Washington County (South County), where he took 55% of the vote against Whitehouse's 45%. Chafee also took Kent County by a small margin, while Whitehouse was victorious by extremely slim margins in Bristol and Newport Counties.

After the election, when asked by a reporter if he thought his defeat would help the country by giving Democrats control of Congress, he replied, "to be honest, yes."[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
2002
Jack Reed
Rhode Island U.S. Senate elections
2006
Succeeded by
2008