Jim Douglas was re-elected to his third term as governor less than a year ago. But with a two-year cycle, political parties are already thinking about whether he'll have a fourth term.
A poll conducted for Channel 3 News asked 400 likely voters what they would do if the 2008 election were held today.
42 percent said they'd vote to re-elect Jim Douglas.
33 percent said they'd replace him.
25 percent said they were not sure.
"I think it's going to be very hard for anybody to beat him," said Rob Roper, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. "He's well-liked, and he's doing an excellent job."
Roper said the numbers show Douglas is in a strong position for 2008.
"The most obvious difference is the fact the Democrats haven't been able to field a candidate against Gov. Douglas," he said. "So far, nobody's stepped up to express any interest in doing it. That's another indication of the governor's strength in '08."
Leaders of the state's Democratic and Progressive parties saw these results much differently.
"I think it's significant that the re-election numbers are below 50% for (Douglas), and this is before there's even an announced candidate in the race," said Morgan Daybell, executive director of the state's Progressive Party.
"My first reaction is, this is bad news for Jim Douglas," Democratic Party Chair Ian Carleton said. "This indicates serious slippage since the November '06 election. I would not be taking any comfort from these numbers if I were Jim Douglas."
The poll also asked people who they'd like to see run against Douglas.
Of the eight choices, Democrat Matt Dunne and Progressive Anthony Pollina were the only ones with more than 10 percent -- Dunne with 22 percent, Pollina with 12 percent.
Each of the other Democrats has said he or she is not interested in running for governor.
More than a third of likely voters -- 37 percent -- said they were not sure.
"I would assume that most of those voters who are not sure are maybe considering whether they want to support Jim Douglas again," Daybell said, "and I think there's a lot of opportunity for Anthony to make inroads with those folks."
"There are compelling reasons for Vermonters to vote Jim Douglas out of office," Carleton said. "And Matt Dunne, according to this poll, is very well positioned to get that message to the people."
Since this poll was conducted two weeks ago, two more Democrats have expressed an interest in running for governor. Peter Galbraith and John Campbell were not included in the poll numbers. Carleton praise both of them as viable candidates.
Both Matt Dunne and Anthony Pollina have said families and other interests will factor into their decision to run. And with a year left, party leaders say there's no rush to join the race.
"The most important thing with the poll numbers is that the governor's race is open," Daybell said. "There's a lot of talk of Gov. Douglas being unbeatable, but I think the numbers here really point to the fact that he is vulnerable."
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