Let’s get something out there up front. I suck at predictions. I’m not particularly plugged into The People or the political establishment of either party. I’m not a statistical expert; I can’t evaluate the polls for insights and/or flaws. I tend to let my heart get in the way. (Yes, I do have a heart. I’ve been tested.) In 2014, I confidently foresaw an easy re-election win for Peter Shumlin. Which is about the only real test for a would-be prognosticator in my roughly five years of being a Vermont Political Observer.
So stack up the disclaimers like firewood before I take a timorous tiptoe out on a short limb and say…
I think Sue Minter is our next governor.
It’ll be close. Might even need to be affirmed by the Legislature, should Bill Lee draw enough votes to keep her under 50 percent.
Up until three weeks ago, I thought Phil Scott would win. Since then, the momentum is all Minter’s.
The early voting numbers have been strong, and they took a huge leap over the weekend. On Friday, the Secretary of State’s office reported that 75,342 Vermonters had cast early ballots.
The total as of Monday afternoon? 89,411. That’s more than 14,000 ballots received in one day. Ballots can be returned until the polls close tonight; there are another 9300 early ballots outstanding, so the final early-voting total could approach 100,000. Which would represent nearly 30 percent of the total electorate.
(UPDATE: As of 9:30 this morning, returned ballots are up to 91,593. More than 100,000 people have requested ballots. We’re virtually certain to break the record.)
It would also break our all-time record of 94,663 early ballots cast in 2008.
Early voting is becoming the norm, not the exception. Which is logical; our tradition of holding elections on a single weekday is, frankly, ridiculous. You’d think it was designed to keep voters away.
Vermont has taken many positive steps to simplify voting.
I just realized that it’s been a long time since I’d given any thought to the Progressive Party as a force in state politics.
What reminded me was Terri Hallenbeck’s piece about the Stanaks, “a family divided over a Vermont election.” It’s the story of a stalwart progressive (and Progressive) family that’s gone in different directions this cycle. Paterfamilias Ed Stanak, motivated by opposition to ridgeline wind, is backing Phil Scott. Daughter Lluvia Stanak is working on the Sue Minter campaign. Her sister Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, chair of the Vermont Progressive Party, is officially neutral.
That’s because the Progs opted to sit out the gubernatorial race, failing to field a candidate of their own and refusing to endorse anyone else. I vaguely recall knowing that at some earlier point, but I’d managed to completely forget it until now.
The non-endorsement kinda made sense at the time. Sue Minter looked like an offshoot of the Shumlin administration, which had burned the Progs twice over by snagging their endorsement in 2010 and 2012 and then bailing on their number-one issue, single-payer health care. The Progs were, understandably, twice bitten and thrice shy.
It looks a lot worse now, what with Prog stalwart David Zuckerman fully on board with the Democratic ticket and Bernie Sanders going all-out to boost the Minter campaign. Indeed, the Progressive Party looks out of touch and almost irrelevant.