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.
She got a huge boost from Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, plus his campaigning efforts and fundraising appeal. The Democratic Party put together three consecutive weekends of rallies featuring a unified ticket plus our Congressional delegation, all standing with Minter.
Beyond that, she’s run a strong campaign while Phil Scott has been trying to run out the clock. Which might have worked in the good old days when Vermont campaigns were a few months long, but not this year. In the final lap, he’s running on fumes.
Scott is also pulling the dead weight of the Donald Trump candidacy and a moribund statewide ticket. It was already an uphill battle, given Vermont’s partisan splits and the fact that it’s a presidential year.
And all signs point to high turnout, which favors the Democrats.
Will I be surprised if Scott pulls it out? No, not at all. But I give the edge to Minter.
None of the other statewide Republicans has a snowball’s chance, including Milne. As for the Legislature, I see modest Democratic gains in both houses. The Dems are certain to pick up a Senate seat in Chittenden County; I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republicans lost a seat (or even two) in Franklin and/or Rutland County.
In the House, Republicans are hoping to pick up a few more seats. I think they’ll be hard pressed to hold on to what they gained in the very low-turnout election of 2014. The Dems will lose a few, certainly; but the net will favor the Dems by, oh, 3-5 seats.
There, I did it. Now I’ll put up a sturdy net to catch all the brickbats.