UNH Poll: GOP Gov. Scott draws support from majority of Dems

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Republican Governor Phil Scott appears headed for another re-election and draws strong support from a majority of Vermont Democrats, according to a new University of New Hampshire poll.

“There’s a lot of moving parts here, it makes it a fascinating race to follow,” said Middlebury political science professor Matt Dickinson.

The UNH poll commissioned by WCAX shows former Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary. The poll conducted between July 21st and 25th shows Zuckerman received 38% compared to 23% for his nearest opponent, former Rep. Kitty Toll. Patricia Preston received 7%, and Rep. Charlie Kimbell, D-Woodstock, received 4%.

Twenty-three percent of voters remained undecided. However, 16% had an unfavorable opinion of Zuckerman. “The fact that the other candidates are not as well known, they don’t have hardly any negatives at all,” said political analyst Steve Terry. He says that could give Toll room to catch up in the last two weeks.

In the GOP primary, Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia County, an ally of Gov. Phil Scott, is leading far-right candidate Gregory Thayer 33% to 20%. Almost half of Republican voters polled remain undecided. Analysts say appealing to independent voters, who may instead cast a ballot in the contested Democratic U.S. House race, will be the deciding factor in the Benning-Thayer matchup.

“Those candidates on the stump have a challenge. They have to break out of that comfortable party base and really appeal to independents if they want to prevail,” said Dennise Casey, a public affairs consultant.

Voter turnout is also traditionally lower in summer primaries and many prospective voters are not paying close attention, according to analysts, so every crossover vote will count. “But in a close race, it only takes a few,” Dickinson said.

The UNH poll also looked at the likely general election match-up in the governor’s race. Governor Scott continues to hold a high approval rating, with 66% of respondents approving of the job he’s doing. If the election was held today, Scott would capture 60% of the vote, Democrat Brenda Siegel would receive 16%, and Progressive Susan Hatch Davis would receive 4%.

Even among Democratic voters, Scott is the favorite, with 51% saying they’ll vote for him in November. That compares to Siegel, a Democrat, who earns only 21% of Democratic support.

“Only two in 10 Democrats say they will vote for the Democratic candidate for governor if the election was held. For sure that’s notable, for sure. Especially in a state that’s considered pretty deep blue,” Casey said.

As of Wednesday, over 48,000 Vermonters had already requested their early and absentee ballots and over 20,000 had been returned to town clerks.

For those thinking about mailing their ballots, the Secretary of State’s Office recommends doing it no later than Friday, so that it will make it to voters’ town clerks by August 9.

UNH Poll Sampling methods.

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