The Democratic primary for Vermont attorney general is less than a week away, and in a Castleton College poll of 223 registered voters likely to vote in that primary, longtime Attorney General Bill Sorrell is favored. He has 44 percent of the vote-- that's a 20 percent edge on challenger T.J. Donovan.
But Pollster Rich Clark predicts the final numbers at the polls could be much closer because voter participation in a Vermont primary is usually low.
"Turnout for the 2010 primary was 24 percent and there was a hot gubernatorial race at that time. And we don't have that same level of excitement in any of the primaries this time around," said Clark of the Castleton Polling Institute.
Clark says Sorrell does best among independents, but if only Democrats show up to vote in the primary, that 20 percent edge could change.
"It's about turnout," Clark said. "It's about getting your vote out and an enthusiasm which is very difficult to measure."
It's also important to note 31 percent of those surveyed still aren't sure who they'll pick in next week's primary.
Another incumbent Vermont voters favor-- President Barack Obama. In a sample of 477 Vermont voters, 62 percent say if they had to vote today they'd pick President Obama over Republican rival Mitt Romney. Romney only had 25 percent of the vote. Those results mirror a similar survey done in May, but Clark said he wanted to gauge if Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as vice president changed Vermonters' votes.
"They're a good looking duo. We thought maybe because all of a sudden they're on the television so much that there may be a slight bump, but we didn't find it," Clark said.
Voters were also asked who they'd pick for governor if the elections were held today. Again, the incumbent, Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, fared best with 60 percent of the vote. Republican challenger Randy Brock had 26 percent. Again, almost exactly the same numbers as a poll from earlier this year.
"It's almost stunning how little the numbers have changed among demographics or anything else," Clark said.
Governor Shumlin and President Obama both win the vote from the majority of independent voters-- Shumlin with 64 percent and the president with 63.
Clark also pointed out the polls have an overrepresentation of older Vermont voters compared with the percentage of the real state population that falls in that demographic, but he says older people are also more likely to vote at the primary and on Election Day, which he says could hurt T.J. Donovan, who does best among the younger groups.
The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.5 percent. The poll was done and paid for by Castleton College.
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