This report is based on data from 477 interviews drawn from a random sample of registered voters in Vermont. Interviews were conducted by phone by the Castleton Polling Institute, from August 11 to August 21, 2012. For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 4.5 percent, although the margin of error is larger for questions involving subsamples of respondents. Although sampling error is only one source of potential survey error, precautions have been taken to minimize other sources of error for this poll.
Now that the Republican vice-presidential nominee is known, Vermont voters still prefer Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, 62 percent to 25 percent. The Castleton Polling Institute began collecting perceptions of registered voters in Vermont on the day that Governor Romney’s choice for running mate was announced. Still, the presidential race in Vermont is virtually unchanged since a poll of registered voters was released in May.
In Vermont’s gubernatorial race, incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin retains a lead over his Republican challenger Senator Randy Brock, 60 percent to 25 percent, among registered voters. These too are virtually unchanged since May. Neither Shumlin nor Brock have challengers in the state-wide primaries.
In addition to the update on the races for president and governor, Castleton asked respondents about the Democratic primary contest for Attorney General. The data on this subset of respondents is small, and there is a higher margin of error (+/- 7 percent) for these findings. While our data from those who have already voted through early voting (9 percent) or self-report being very likely to vote in the August 28 Democratic primary election show an advantage for incumbent Bill Sorrell (44 percent) over TJ Donovan (24 percent), there remains a high level of undecided voters (31 percent) with a week left before the primary. It is likely that Sorrell benefits some from name recognition, which would make a difference in a race that has not captured the interest of a majority of voters. In addition, 59 percent of those poll respondents who have not voted early say that they are very likely to vote in the August 28 primary; however, the turnout in the 2010 statewide primary was only 24 percent, and this year’s turnout is expected to be even lower. Thus, over-reporting intent to vote, which is always a problem in pre-election polls, may be even more pronounced as it pertains to the primary race.
Donovan’s strength appears to be among younger voters and women, while Sorrell does best with independents who say that they will vote in the Democratic primary. Sorrell also does better among respondents who voted in the 2010 state-wide primary.