With Election Day just a week away, Channel 3 has surprising new poll results in the race for Governor in Vermont. Last week, our pollster Research 2000 asked 400 likely Vermont voters who they will vote for in November. The Governor's race is a three-way competition between Republican Jim Douglas, Democrat Gaye Symington and Independent Anthony Pollina. And a lot has changed since our last poll a month ago-- Pollina is gaining ground, while Symington is slipping, but Douglas still has a strong lead.
The poll shows Republican Jim Douglas has 47 percent of the vote, Democrat Gaye Symington 24 percent and Independent Anthony Pollina a very close third with 23 percent.
"These are numbers that have to be disappointing to the Symington campaign," says Eric Davis, a political scientist.
Davis says it's difficult news for Symington because her numbers have dropped 9 points from Channel 3's last poll last month, where she had 33 percent of the vote. Davis says she could end up with the lowest vote share of any democratic candidate since 1962.
"Some of that may be due to the fact that in debates and press conferences and speeches Gaye Symington is not as articulate as the other candidates at explaining her positions and making the case as to why she should be elected the next governor of Vermont," Davis explains.
Davis says the poll results are good news for Pollina-- his numbers are up 16 points.
"I believe many voters who feel Jim Douglas has been in office long enough and want a change in Montpelier have decided that Anthony Pollina has been making the case for change and a new direction in Vermont more effectively then Gaye Symington," Davis says.
Despite the shake up, Davis says Douglas still has a very comfortable double-digit lead over his opponents.
And the incumbent's favorability rating has gone up, even during what's considered to be a strong democratic year.
Douglas has a 50 percent favorable rating, 42 percent unfavorable.
"50 percent of Vermonters have a favorable opinion of Jim Douglas after 6 years in office in a year that is not good for Republican candidates, so that shows that Jim Douglas does have a reservoir of support," Davis says.
"I voted for Governor Douglas," says Seth Hopkins, of Brandon.
"I'll probably stick with Douglas," agrees Roger Audet, of North Hyde Park.
Gaye Symington has a 34 percent favorable rating, 45 percent unfavorable, with 21 percent having no opinion.
"I'll probably stick with my democratic trend and vote democrat for it," says Diana Pirolo, of Burlington.
Anthony Pollina has a 45 percent favorability rating, 35 percent unfavorable and 20 percent no opinion.
"I think Pollina has some really good ideas," says Tanya Beaudoin, of Burlington.
Davis says if Douglas is re-elected, a solid showing by Pollina could change who's seen as the spoiler in the future.
"A strong third or second-place finish for Pollina means that his views and the progressives' views need to be taken very seriously by democrats in discussions about the future of the Vermont party system," Davis says.
Davis says the poll also shows that Vermonters are splitting their ticket-- voting for Barack Obama but not Gaye Symington. As evidence, the Channel 3 poll showed Obama at 57 percent while Symington has less than half of that at 24 percent, so she has not yet been able to tap into that change message.
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