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New poll results in Vermont race for governor - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New poll results in Vermont race for governor

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

New WCAX poll results in the race for governor. Our poll shows Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, with a commanding lead, but he is still below a key threshold.

Barring a shift in the position of voters, Shumlin would likely keep his job but might require the help of the Legislature. And analysts say Health Connect and other blunders are dragging him down.

According to the poll, 47 percent of respondents say they'll vote for Gov. Peter Shumlin this November. His Republican challenger Scott Milne trails by 12, pulling 35 percent of support in the survey.

Liberterian Dan Feliciano draws 6 percent and other candidates have 3 percent, with 8 percent of those polled undecided.

"I don't think Mr. Milne has given the public a reason to vote for him and that is what Mr. Milne's challenge is going to be in the next six weeks," said Mike Smith, Republican political analyst.

"I think these numbers show that there's one candidate against Peter Shumlin and that is Peter Shumlin," said Steve Terry, Democratic political analyst.

According to the poll, 45 percent of poll respondents said they approved of Shumlin's job performance, while 41 percent disapproved.

"Whenever you're under 50 percent that's a very dangerous place to be," said Terry.

"These approval numbers are not good at all, as a matter of fact, they're horrible," said Smith.

Analysts say marks like that would typically leave a candidate vulnerable, but they don't see much of a threat from the Governor's challengers.

Rich Clark of the Castleton Polling Institute says Milne would need to sway all the undecided, and Feliciano voters to upset the Governor.

"I think that's a very tough hill to climb," said Clark.

In recent elections, a third candidate cut into Democratic support from the left. But this year, Clark says Feliciano is likely pulling from parts of Milne's Republican base.

Clark says the governor's numbers may be lower because he's no longer riding a wave of support behind Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts and has since gotten hits to his image from a controversial land deal with his neighbor, and the rocky health exchange roll-out. But pollsters did not ask voters to explain.

"A lot of people like to talk when they get to the governor and explain themselves, but we weren't capturing that in any sort of rigorous way," said Clark.

If the governor gets the most votes but not 50 percent or more as projected, the Legislature will have its pick of the candidates.

The supermajority would be expected to choose Gov. Shumlin.

The poll's margin of error is 4 percent, so it would not be a surprise if the governor did secure more than half of the votes cast this November.

If the governor wins with less than 50 percent analysts say that could have a small effect, but they doubt it will a significant factor in what ultimately happens during the session.

Governor Shumlin and Scott Milne will meet for their first television debate Wednesday night, on Channel 3. Join us for the live, one-hour debate beginning at 7 p.m. It starts right after the CBS Evening news, which airs at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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