For nearly five decades, Rhode Island has been one of the nation's most solidly Democratic states. It has voted for the Republican presidential candidate only four times since 1928, elected only one Republican (former Governor John H. Chafee) to the US Senate since 1934, and sent no Republicans to the US House from 1940 until 1980, when one Republican and one Democrat were elected. (They were reelected in 1982 and 1984.) Also in 1980, Rhode Island was one of only six states to favor Jimmy Carter. However, in 1984, Republican Edward DiPrete was elected governor, and Ronald Reagan narrowly carried the state in the presidential election. In the 2000 presidential election, Democrat Al Gore won 61% of the vote to Republican George W. Bush's 32%; independent candidate Ralph Nader took 6% of the popular vote.
In 1994, Republican John H. Chafee won a fourth term in the US Senate. Republican Lincoln D. Chafee was named Senator in November 1999 upon the death of his father; he was elected to his first full term in 2000. In 1996, Democrat Jack Reed won the Senate seat vacated by Claiborne Pell after 36 years in office; Reed was reelected in 2002. Both US representatives were Democrats in 2003. Among state officeholders, in mid-2003 there were 32 Democrats and six Republicans in the state senate, and 63 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one Independent in the state house. The governor's office is held by Republican Donald L. Carcieri, elected in 2002.
Rhode Island Presidential Vote, 1948–2000
|YEAR||ELECTORAL VOTE||RHODE ISLAND WINNER||DEMOCRAT||REPUBLICAN|
|*Won US presidential election.|
|** Independent candidate Ross Perot received 105,045 votes in 1992 and 43,723 votes in 1996.|