VPR Vermont Poll Shows A Dead Heat Between Shumlin, Dubie For Governor

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(Host) A poll conducted for Vermont Public Radio shows that gubernatorial candidates Brian Dubie and Peter Shumlin are locked in a dead heat in the final weeks of the campaign.

The poll shows that Democrat Shumlin has more support among women, while Republican Dubie has more strength among independent voters.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) The VPR Vermont Poll shows that if the election were held today, Republican Brian Dubie would get 44 percent of the vote and Democrat Peter Shumlin would garner 43 percent.

Despite weeks of intense advertising and dozens of debates, neither candidate has been able to break through.

Eric Davis is a retired political science professor at Middlebury College.

(Davis) "We’re looking at a very close race in the final two weeks of the campaign. The candidates are basically within the margin of error."

(Dillon) The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Davis says the poll shows opportunities for both Shumlin and Dubie. About half of voters have a favorable impression of Dubie and a third have an unfavorable opinion. Shumlin gets a 41 percent favorable rating and 37 percent unfavorable.

Davis says both candidates still have time to improve how voters perceive them.

(Davis) "What I found most interesting there is that there are still roughly 20 to 25 percent of the people surveyed who either are neutral towards the two candidates, or in a few instances don’t even recognize their names. So both candidates have the opportunity with between one and four or one in five voters to still to create a positive impression of themselves or a negative impression of their opponent, and thus close the deal."

(Dillon) Another opportunity, says Davis, is that eight percent of those surveyed are still undecided.

One voter who has made up her mind is Jenny Wilson from Orwell. She retired a year and a half ago from her job in the state Agency of Human Services. Wilson was surveyed this week by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research for the VPR Vermont poll, and she favors Democrat Peter Shumlin.

As for Dubie, Wilson says she was bothered by recent media reports that he was absent for some of his official duties as lieutenant governor.

(Wilson) "He wasn’t, I don’t think, really doing his job. And that was part of it. Okay, he’s not pro-choice. He’s for Vermont Yankee, doesn’t want to close it down."

(Dillon) But David Derner of Milton says he favors Dubie. Derner describes himself as a moderate conservative who has voted for both parties. But he says Shumlin seems too liberal.

(Derner) "Too far off, you know, too far left. He’d fit into the Washington politics just fine. They’re so far off to the left we have to get sort of a compromise going here, you know what I mean?"

(Dillon) Derner says he’s undecided in both the race for U-S House and Senate.

But most voters surveyed by Mason-Dixon had made up their minds. And by overwhelming margins they favor incumbents Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter Welch.

Leahy enjoys a lead over Republican challenger Len Britton of 62 percent to 27 percent. Welch leads Republican Paul Beaudry by 61 percent to 25 percent.

Retired political science professor Eric Davis looks at the congressional races, and sees some warning signs for Peter Shumlin.

Independent voters are showing strong support for Leahy and Welch. Forty-nine percent of Dubie supporters also described themselves as independents. Davis says Shumlin needs to capture the independent vote, as well.

(Davis) "At this point, Peter Shumlin is getting only 30 percent. And I would say Shumlin needs to get pretty close to 40 percent, or into the 40 percent range of the independent vote on Election Day in order, to win this race.

(Dillon) The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research of Washington D-C. Six hundred 25 registered voters were interviewed by phone over three days earlier this week.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

(Host) The poll also finds that the five other candidates in the race for governor got about one percent support each.

We’ll have a discussion about the results in the VPR Vermont Poll on Vermont Edition today at noon. And we’ll look at other statewide races on All Things Considered beginning at 4.

The VPR Vermont Poll was made possible by the VPR Journalism Fund.

VPR Vermont Poll Results

VPR Vermont Poll: Governor, Senate, House

Visit Campaign 2010 for the latest results from the VPR Vermont Poll

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