Tag Archives: Castleton Polling Institute

The VPR Poll: Pants On Fire, and other observations

Rich Clark was worried about inaccurate results. That’s why he didn’t want to survey Vermonters about their preferences in the August primary.

Okay, but when you look at the results of his VPR Poll, you realize that some of those people are lying their asses off. Which kinda makes the whole accuracy concern seem a bit irrelevant.

The biggest whoppers came when respondents were asked how likely they are to vote. 87 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to vote in November. In actual fact, we’ll be lucky to hit 60.

As for the primary, 68 percent claim to be very or somewhat likely to vote. More than half of those people are lying. The biggest primary turnouts in recent years were 23 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2000, the year of the Great “Take Back Vermont” freakout.

Which makes me wonder. If that many people are lying about that, why should we believe the rest of their answers?

After the jump: analysis of their possibly truthful answers. 

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The VPR Poll: Point/Counterpoint

Apparently my previous post pricked some delicate sensibilities at VPR’s brand spankin’ new $10,000,000 Palace Of Genteel Broadcasting, because within a few hours this blog had received comments from VPR News Director John Dillon and Director of Digital Services Jonathan Butler, attempting to explain why their Castleton Polling Institute survey didn’t include the question foremost in political junkies’ minds: how are the primaries for governor and lieutenant governor shaping up?

Their explanations were earnest, extensive, and only partly convincing. I’ve still got problems and unanswered questions.

Starting with this. Nowhere in its poll-related online content, as far as I can tell, do they disclose the lack of direct, “who would you vote for?” questions on the key statewide races. Did it not occur to anyone in the P.O.G.B. that listeners might wonder about this singular omission?

Apparently not. Either that, or they were embarrassed about it and were hoping to slip it under the door while nobody was looking.

Well, on to the explanations. Which bore striking similarities, almost as though somebody had a meeting.

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So unbelievable.

VPR rolled out its latest poll today, conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute. I dutifully pored over the results, about which more later. But for now, one simple stupid thing.

There was an impressive array of questions about issues of concern, Vermonters’ impressions of candidates, how they feel about the presidential election…

… but nothing about voter preferences on the August primary races. No head-to-head numbers. No question asking “If the primary were today, who would you vote for?”

(Or, “for whom would you vote” if you insist.)

So I Tweeted an inquiry and got the following, stupefying response.

“We didn’t do a head-to-head.”

As in, “We didn’t ask the question that would be foremost on the minds of those who care about the polls.”

Double-u Tee Eff.

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About that Shumlin approval poll

Bit of a surprise came to us late last week, with news of a survey showing Governor Shumlin had suddenly enjoyed a surge in popularity.

The results were released by Morning Consult, a national polling agency that gave Shumlin a 55 percent approval rating after collecting data online between January and May. Shumlin jumped nearly 10 points from the last time Morning Consult polled Vermonters, in November, when 46 percent of respondents gave him a thumbs up.

"What should I do now, Scotty?" "Ya got me, boss." (Photo from VPR)

“What should I do now, Scotty?” “Ya got me, boss.” (Photo from VPR)

The results are also at odds with a February poll from the Castleton Polling Institute that put the Governor at 37 percent approval, and the previous two Castleton surveys: in September 2015, Shumlin was at 40 percent; in March 2015, it was 41 percent. That’s awfully darn consistent.

The Democratic Party was quick to promote the Morning Consult number. Understandable; it would be the best possible news for the party and its gubernatorial candidate. It would prove broad support for the Democratic agenda, and it would mean the candidate wouldn’t have to create distance between her- or himself and Shumlin.

As for me, well, color me skeptical. After all, what has happened since February — or November — to bolster Shumlin’s popularity? He didn’t score any high-profile victories in the Legislature. And he’s taken quite a hit from the EB-5 imbroglio, since he’d associated himself so prominently with the scandal-plagued developers.

Is there some other counterbalancing factor — some political “dark matter” exerting a positive gravitational pull on Shumlin’s numbers? Or is it just an outlier?

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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.

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A handful of numbers, signifying not much

Today’s big political news is yesterday’s release of a new poll from the Castleton Polling Institute. It measured name recognition and favorability for the declared gubernatorial candidates. The headline number, that Phil Scott has 77% name recognition, is not a surprise at all. He’s the only one in the field who’s run statewide general-election campaigns, and he’s done so each of the last three times. He’s also held numerous high-profile events, such as his Job For A Day Tour and the annual Wheels for Warmth charity drive. It’d be a shock if he wasn’t the most widely recognized.

(The importance of statewide campaigns in building familiarity can be seen by Scott Milne’s very strong 74% and Randy Brock’s respectable 60%.)

Overall, it’s so early in the campaign that the poll is largely meaningless except as a baseline for future polls. That’s exactly the word chief pollster Rich Clark used in characterizing the survey; he downplayed “any sort of predictive value.” Indeed, there’s nothing here that a good candidate can’t overcome in the 11 months until the primary. But hey, the goat’s been slaughtered, so let’s read the entrails.

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Vermont Republicans: Not buying the snake oil

This week, the Castleton Polling Institute released a presidential poll of Vermont voters. The number that made headlines: Just as many Republican voters favor Bernie Sanders as any Republican candidate.

The actual result: Bernie’s in a three-way tie with Donald Trump and Ben Carson among Republicans, at a measly 12%. (It’s also worth noting that Hillary Clinton gets 4% support among VT Republicans.)

That’s interesting. But to me, there are two more notable takeaways from the poll.

First, Vermont’s Republican electorate remains splintered and undecided. The fact that no candidate got more than 12% is awfully telling. The real winner is “Not Sure,” with 28%. In other words, Vermont Republicans are thoroughly underwhelmed by what they’ve seen so far. I mean, 16% of them are backing a Democrat, for goodness sakes. That’s almost half who can’t settle on a Republican candidate.

Second, the state’s Republican electorate is relatively immune to the blandishments of snake-oil salespeople.

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