The new polls, pt. 1: Vote for Bud

Yesterday brought new polls in the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. I’ll get to the Shumlin/Milne numbers later. This post will address the easy one: Phil Scott 58%, Dean Corren 24%.

Yeah, that race is over. Commence victory lap.

Corren’s 24% is bad enough, but the worse news is Scott’s 58. Corren would not only have to sweep the undecideds to make this competitive, he’d have to unconvince almost 10% of Scott voters. That ain’t happening.

The poll is credible, coming from the Castleton Polling Institute (and commissioned by WCAX-TV). The 4% margin of error is a drop in Phil Scott’s bucket.

Corren’s response, of course, is defensive optimism, per VPR:

“It was done… before our ads started to kick in. And we’re going to be doing a lot more ads,” Corren says. So I think it’s mostly a name recognition thing.”

Which raises a question about Corren’s campaign strategy. As of October 1, he’d spent about one-fourth of his $200,000 publicly-financed warchest. He waited an awfully long time to amp up a race between a basically unknown challenger and an extremely well-known incumbent.

Maybe he was misled by the success of his drive for public financing, or the outcome of his write-in bid for the Democratic nomination. Corren’s got an enthusiastic core following, but that doesn’t help him in the general campaign. In the language of beer, Dean Corren is Heady Topper: a tremendous niche-market success.

Phil Scott is Budweiser. Uninspiring, bland, perennial best seller.

You can see the contrast in these words from Corren, meant to support his candidacy but actually outlining the reasons Phil Scott will win:

“You have an incumbent who has spent four years doing things that make everybody in the state feel like he’s a nice guy and not hold him to account on any particular issues, and really know where he stands on issues, because he’s done a really good job of ducking that.”

Yeah, exactly. Everybody in the state thinks “he’s a nice guy.” And he’s running for the ultimate nice-guy office. Also, being a nice guy makes him the perfect token Republican: he’s not going to aggressively challenge the status quo.

Now, there’s no way the final result is going to be anything like 58-24. I expect Corren to gain 15-20 percentage points. He’ll almost certainly do better than Cass Gekas’ 40% two years ago. But not nearly enough to matter.

Heady Topper’s great. But it’ll never challenge Bud.

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