The VPR Poll: the gubernatorial race

Big day in Vermont politics. VPR commissioned a wide-ranging poll from the Castleton Polling Institute. During today’s “Vermont Edition,” there was a painstakingly thorough (read: boring) examination of the presidential results, which contained no real surprises*. What I was most interested in is the gubernatorial race: as far as I can tell, this is the first real poll taken since the field took its current shape.

* Bernie’s whompin’ Hillary; Trump has a big lead over Rubio and Kasich, with Cruz in fourth.

The poll also contains some striking findings on issues, which I’ll address in a separate post. Preview: several “hot-button” issues don’t seem to concern the electorate very much.

First, a note on the gubernatorial numbers. All respondents are included in both the Democratic and Republican races. The question is: “Of the two candidates running for the [Democratic/Republican] nomination for Governor, which do you prefer?” Republicans got to weigh in on the Democratic race, and vice versa. So the results may be a little funky — although to be honest, the Dem/Repub/Indy breakdowns aren’t substantially different from the overall numbers. Still, take these results with a small grain of salt.

Topline for the gubernatorial findings: Phil Scott is way out in front, and will be difficult to catch.

Let’s start with the Republican race, because the results are unquestionable: Phil Scott has a huge lead, and Bruce Lisman might as well pack it in right now.

Phil Scott 42%
Bruce Lisman 4%
Someone else (specify) 0%
Neither 13%
Not sure/Don’t know 40%
Refused 1%
Total respondents 895

Yeah, that’s bad for Bruce. Four percent? After all his years of toiling in the fields and spending over a million bucks on a “grassroots” advocacy group? Bloody hell.

Technically, he could overtake Scott. But he’d have to sweep the undecideds and steal some from Scott’s column. It’s virtually impossible. Especially with someone as well-liked as Phil Scott.

As for the Democratic race, it clearly hasn’t developed yet.

Sue Minter 11%
Matt Dunne 19%
Someone else (specify) 0%
Neither 18%
Not sure/Don’t know 51%
Refused 1%
Total respondents 895

More than half are undecided, and “Neither” is in second place!

Not too surprising, considering that on a separate question, only nine percent of respondents say they have followed the governor’s race “Very closely,” while a solid 66 percent say “Not too closely” or “Not at all.” Dunne and Minter still have plenty of time to make their mark. And, just sayin’, this poll has to give some encouragement to House Speaker Shap Smith, who is said to be considering a run for either governor or lieutenant governor.

I’m not him, but if I were, I’d opt for Lite-Gov. Because when the respondents were asked which candidate they want to see win in November, there is a clear front-runner, and it’s a runaway.

Phil Scott, 66 percent. Dunne, 15 percent, Minter 12, and Lisman a pathetic 3. Ouch.

And here’s your grain of salt for this set of numbers: Most respondents are undecided. Only 292 of the 895 respondents had a favorite candidate for governor. That’s a very small sample.

Still, Phil Scott has 66 percent. That’s a high mountain for anyone to climb. (He has huge majorities of the Republican and Independent respondents; he gets 23 percent among Democrats, which is a damn good number for a Republican.

The only light at the end of this tunnel for Scott’s competitors? The poll indicates that most Vermonters are really not engaged on the issues seen as problematic for Democrats. Health care reform, the Act 46 school funding reform, siting of large-scale renewables. The voters just don’t seem especially upset about those issues.

More on that in my next post.

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