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Vt. governor's race: A toss up?

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Montpelier, Vermont - February 17, 2010

New poll numbers show the open governor's race is shaping up to be a tossup.

WCAX News teamed up with WDEV-Radio and Vermont Business Magazine to poll 400 likely Vermont voters.

Five democrats are vying for the state's top job against Republican Brian Dubie. We matched them up head-to-head and also asked what it would mean for the race if Progressive Anthony Pollina got in.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz leads the Democratic field-- the only candidate to beat Republican Brian Dubie.

In a head-to-head matchup, Markowitz defeats Dubie 43 percent to 41 percent-- a narrow margin. Sixteen percent of polled voters are undecided.

"Markowitz can use these poll results to argue she's going to be the strongest general election candidate of the five Democrats," Political Scientist Eric Davis said.

Chittenden County Senator Doug Racine was the first Democrat to enter the race. He's almost in a dead heat with Dubie given the poll's 5-point margin of error. Racine gets 38 percent to Dubie's 43 percent.

"The Racine campaign would probably like to be a little bit closer to Dubie or slightly ahead than they are now," Davis said.

Former state Senator Matt Dunne, the youngest candidate, comes in third when matched up against Brian Dubie. Forty-four percent would choose Dubie in that match up, 36 percent pick Dunne, with 20 percent undecided.

"That's nearly the same percentage by which Brian Dubie defeated Matt Dunne for Lieutenant Governor back in 2006," Davis noted.

Dunne does just slightly better than Senate President Peter Shumlin. Shumlin gets 35 percent of the vote to Dubie's 45 percent. The poll also found Shumlin is not well known. Davis says that's surprising given the Senator's leadership role in the Legislature.

"Shumlin could definitely be a strong challenger as he gets better known," Davis said.

And Lamoille County Senator Susan Bartlett is the least known in the poll. She was the last Democrat to enter the race. Against Bartlett, Dubie gets 48 percent; Bartlett gets 30 percent; 22 percent are undecided.

"Susan Bartlett needs to spend time traveling around the state," Davis said.

Progressive Anthony Pollina is not yet in the governor's race, but has considered a run. When you add his name into the mix, Pollina comes in a distant third in every match up.

"I don't believe Pollina's entry into the race would substantially advantage either Dubie or whoever emerges as the Democratic primary winner," Davis said.

Davis says what really stands out is that Dubie-- a four-term Lieutenant Governor-- when stacked against any Democratic candidate does not clear 50 percent.

"They are all very much in it," Davis said. "Dubie has not locked this up by any means."

Of course a lot can and will change between now and November. Many of the Democratic candidates are in the Legislature and once that wraps up they can then focus full time on campaigning.

And this poll only looked at the general election. We did not match up the five candidates in the primary battle because it's difficult to identify who will vote in the primary. But the primary contest could be much different because Democratic primary voters may be drawn to more liberal candidates.

Click here for the full results when Republican Brian Dubie is matched up to the five Democratic candidates.

Click here for the full results when Progressive Anthony Pollina is put in the mix, and to see the all the candidates' favorability ratings.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX News

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