It's Round 2 in the Rhode Island senatorial slugfest.
Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee may have emerged victorious last week from the difficult primary challenge by Steve Laffey, but now he faces an uphill climb against Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, the state's former attorney general. And it looks as if that fight just got tougher.
A new poll by Rasmussen Reports gives Whitehouse a lead of 8 percentage points over Chafee, 51 percent to 43 percent. Whitehouse has led in the past four surveys by Rasmussen, with the margin widening in the most recent poll released today. Whitehouse has the support of 80 percent of Democrats; Chafee, the support of 74 percent of Republicans.
Voters say the war in Iraq is the biggest issue in Rhode Island, followed by the economy and national security in general. Twenty percent of Rhode Island voters strongly approve of the president, while nearly half do not. Still, with the Bush administration and the National Republican Congressional Committee strongly backing his primary victory in order to retain the party's six-seat majority in the Senate, Chafee can expect to see more help in the general election.