While prepping for my weekly guest spot on Brattleboro’s WKVT Radio (available in podcast form here), I spent some time looking over the Vermont election returns from last Tuesday. And i found some things that surprised me. (All taken from the Secretary of State’s unofficial results.)
For starters, here are three numbers.
The first two are the vote totals for Phil Scott and Sue Minter respectively.
The third? The number of votes in Vermont for Hillary Clinton.
Does that surprise you? It surprised me. Clinton outpolled Phil Scott by nearly 12,000 votes. Sue Minter fell disastrously short of Clinton’s total.
If Minter had simply been able to ride Clinton’s coattails, she would have won the governorship.
(And if Democrats had been smarter when they had legislative majorities and the governorship, they would have established a straight-ticket option on the ballot. Just sayin’.)
Here’s another pair of numbers. Minter received 139,252 votes. Know who did better than that?
Randy Brock, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, that’s who. His tally was roughly 1,000 higher than Minter’s. (David Zuckerman beat him by about 20,000 votes.)
Some of us Brilliant Pundits, including me, have seen the gubernatorial result as a reflection of Phil Scott’s popularity. Maybe we should take another look at Minter’s shortfall. She really didn’t do very well.
I also noticed some fascinating numbers from my town of East Montpelier. This is a liberal town, as is the neighboring capital city. Solidly Democratic with a strong Progressive streak. In legislative races, city and town are reliably liberal. Republicans have basically no shot.
But in the race for governor, city and town were wildly different. Montpelier went for Sue Minter by better than two-to-one. But East Montpelier was a virtual dead heat: Scott 796, Minter 794.
On the other hand, East Montpelier was true to its liberal self in an contest for the House seat currently held by retiring Democrat Tony Klein. The district also includes Middlesex; the following numbers are from East Montpelier only.
Kimberly Jessup (D) 637
Dexter Lefavour (R) 416
Carl Etnier (P) 348
Add together the D and P totals, and you get 985 “liberal” votes and 416 Republican votes.
Phil Scott nearly doubled the total received by Lefavour. Minter lost about 200 “liberal” votes, roughly 20 percent of the total.
This relates to my recent post about the two Vermonts, “Freeway Vermont” and “Two-Lane Vermont.” Montpelier is in Freeway Vermont; but while East Montpelier is politically similar, it is culturally in Two-Lane Vermont. It borders the Big City on the south, but its other neighboring towns include the likes of Calais, Plainfield, and Worcester. Quirky redoubts of Goddard College-inspired counterculture and small-P progressivism.
The modernistic “urban” electorate of Montpelier stuck with Sue Minter. Us country folk went with Phil Scott, even as we handily elected a liberal successor to Tony Klein and did our part to end Bill Doyle’s long tenure in the state senate.
As I wrote before, there are plenty of liberals in Two-Lane Vermont, but their concerns are very different than those of Freeway Vermont.
I’m sure there are plenty of Democrats dissecting Phil Scott’s easy victory with an eye toward what to do better next time around. The tale of two Vermonts is one thing they should consider. Sue Minter did little to enhance her standing in Two-Lane Vermont, and the results reflect that. Profoundly so in East Montpelier.