I suppose it’s only befitting that the race for Vermont’s Warm Bucket of Piss has produced a lot of voters who don’t have a preference or even know who’s running.
The UNH Survey Center Poll Sponsored by WCAX-TV dropped its final piece on Friday, covering the races for governor and lieutenant governor. Nothing new in the gubernatorial; Scott has a commanding lead and he gets substantially better job approval ratings from Democrats than Republicans. (The Democratic voters professed to care more about climate change than anything else, which shows either how little they’re paying attention to the policy debate or how much they’re lying about caring.) Democrat Brenda Siegel remains a heavy underdog, but I think she’s used to being underestimated.
The LG headlines were all about the leaders, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and Sen. Joe Benning, but the real news was the number of undecideds. Both races remain in doubt with the primary just around the corner. The front-runners have the edge, but not as much of an edge as expected.
Let’s do Benning first. He ought to be trouncing extremist Gregory Thayer in the Republican primary but this being the Republican Party, he’s not. Benning leads Thayer by 33% to 20%, with a whopping 47% undecided. Benning also had a 13-point edge in the “don’t know” category; 44% of Republican voters “don’t know enough to say” how they feel about Benning, compared to 57% for Thayer.
Strong feelings of any kind are in short supply. Nine percent view each candidate unfavorably. Thayer has 14% favorable compared to 9% for Benning. The rest don’t know, don’t care, or both.
Again, Benning should be wiping the floor with this clown. If the final result is at all close, it’ll be another damning indictment of the VTGOP base’s extremism.
Meanwhile, Zuckerman has a nice lead in the Dem primary but there are a couple of spiders in the attic.
The good news for Zuckerman is that almost everybody knows who he is. 91% are aware of him; former Rep. Kitty Toll is at 57% awareness; the other two, Rep. Charlie Kimbell and Patricia Preston, are known to less than 40% of the electorate.
The bad news for Zuckerman is that most of those who know him either don’t care or don’t like him. He has 42% favorability, which would be decent for anyone who didn’t already have a long track record and a high profile. He’s only 15 points ahead of Toll in favorability. Sixteen percent have an unfavorable view of Zuckerman compared to 2% for Toll. She’s got quite a bit of room for growth, but the primary is little more than a week away and many have already voted. If this poll holds up, Zuckerman will win (and will dispatch the Republican winner) but will remain a flawed figure in the #vtpoli firmament.
The big question in my mind is, why are Preston and Kimbell still running? They’re not going anywhere and they’re clogging up the centrist lane. They’ve been campaigning for months, and can only muster a combined 11% of the vote. What’s the point?
As relatively moderate figures, you’d think Preston and Kimbell would prefer Toll to Zuckerman. If the two trailers were out of the race, then Toll would be in a statistical tie with Zuckerman and have more room to grow.
But nope. They beat on, boats against the current. `
So. In the Dem primary, you’ve got a weak front-runner against a disorganized opposition whose sole viable candidate is running out of time. It’d be sad, except the Republican side is far worse: a credible mainstream voice who can’t distance himself from a rank conspiratorialist.
The Dem. primary for LG is yet another example why we need ranked choice voting (RCV) in VT. With RCV there would be no need to try and pressure candidates to drop their ideals/values and candidacies.