Douglas ahead in first statewide poll

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(Host) The first statewide poll for the governor’s race has been released. 

It shows incumbent Republican Governor Jim Douglas with a roughly 15 point lead over Democratic candidate Gaye Symington.  Independent candidate Anthony Pollina ran a distant third in the poll.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The poll, which was commissioned by WCAX -TV, asked individuals whom they would vote for if the election was held today.  The names of Republican Jim Douglas, Democrat Gaye Symington and Independent Anthony Pollina were rotated as possible options. People could also identify a different candidate.

Douglas received 48 percent of the vote, Symington got 33 percent, Pollina garnered 7 percent and 12 percent of those responding were undecided.

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks the results are good news for the Douglas re-election campaign.

(Davis) “For the governor to have a 15-point lead with less than two months to go before Election Day is a very good position for him."

(Kinzel) Davis says Democrat Gaye Symington faces a difficult dilemma. In order to raise her poll numbers she needs to run some TV ads. But it’s hard for her to buy TV time because her poll numbers aren’t high enough.

(Davis) “Symington being that far behind is not going to be able to make a compelling case to the Democratic Governors’ Association, Emily’s List, other organizations in Washington to give her a substantial infusion of campaign cash to buy advertising for the last two months of the campaign."

(Kinzel) The Channel 3 poll was taken before Pollina received two of his recent labor endorsements. Davis thinks Pollina’s numbers will go up.

(Davis) “He might go up from 7 percent to perhaps the mid teens and I believe that almost all the votes Pollina would gain at this point would come at the expense of Gaye Symington."

(Kinzel) Democrats believe that presidential candidate Barack Obama will bring a lot of people to the polls and that this wave of voters will help other Democratic candidates.

UVM political science professor Garrison Nelson thinks the so called "Obama wave" may actually benefit Anthony Pollina’s campaign.

(Nelson) “Talking to Obama organizers in some of the local counties and they tell me that part of the problem they’re dealing with is that the Obama people are committed to Anthony Pollina for governor. And will he benefit from the Obama wave? Yes, he will."

(Kinzel) Nelson believes that Douglas has less than 50 percent support in the poll because he says a sense of "Douglas fatigue" is settling into the state as the governor seeks a fourth term in office.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

(Host outro) The poll was conducted by Research 2000. 400 people throughout the state were interviewed between September 11th and the 14th. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus roughly 6 percent.


AP Photo/Toby Talbot

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