WCAX News commissioned the Polling Institute at Castleton to conduct a survey focused on the coming November election of Vermont registered voters. Castleton interviewed 653 registered voters by phone, randomly selected from registered voter lists. The data are weighted to best represent the voting population in a non-presidential general election. In addition, a likely voter model, based on interest in the campaign and past voting behavior, was developed and applied to questions related to vote choice for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. For the entire sample, the margin of error is +/- 3.8 percentage points.
Among likely voters, 47 percent support incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin in his bid to be reelected. Thirty-five percent of likely voters favor Scott Milne in the Gubernatorial Race, and 6 percent favor Dan Feliciano.
Women are more likely to support Shumlin (51 percent) than are men (42 percent), and among men, Shumlin is nearly dead even with Milne (40 percent of the male vote).
Feliciano polls better among independents (11 percent) and Republicans (8 percent) than among Democrats (1 percent), and Feliciano also does comparatively better among younger voters.
Phil Scott is cruising to reelection, leading challenger Dean Corren by 34 percent points; Scott has the support of 91 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents, and even 29 percent of Democrats.
Looking ahead to 2016, a slight plurality (48 percent) of registered voters say that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders should not run for president in 2016. Among those who say Sanders should run (45 percent), 65 percent favor Sanders over Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
Overall, in a head-to-head race for the Democratic nomination, 36 percent favor Sanders, and 29 percent favor Clinton, with another 29 percent favoring neither. Democrats are slightly more likely to favor Clinton to Sanders (46 percent to 42 percent, respectively).
Slightly more registered voters in Vermont approve of Governor Shumlin’s job performance (45 percent) than disapprove (41 percent); Governor Shumlin’s net approval is 4 percentage points. While 75 percent of his own party approve of his performance as governor, independents are slightly more likely to disapprove (46 percent) than approve (43 percent). Only 16 percent of Republicans approve of the Governor’s job performance.
A majority of Vermont voters (57 percent) approve of Phil Scott’s performance as Lieutenant Governor, while only 7 percent say they disapprove, putting Lieutenant Governor Scott’s net approval at 50 percentage points. One third of Vermont registered voters (33 percent) say that they do not know enough to approve or disapprove of the Lieutenant Governor’s job performance.
Generally, Vermont voters give low ratings for the performance of Vermont Health Connect; one third of all respondents (33 percent) rate Vermont Health Connect as poor, and another 29 percent rate it as doing a fair job. Those who are most familiar with Vermont Health Connect give it the lowest ratings, with 46 percent of those who are very familiar with the program rating it as poor.
A majority of respondents rate the job performance of the Department of Children and Families as either fair (30 percent) or poor (28 percent). Four percent rate DCF’s performance as excellent and 23 percent as good. Attitudes about DCF’s performance do not differ much by age, gender, or partisan preferences of the respondent.
The 2014 poll asked Vermont voters to rate the state’s performance addressing the problem of opiate addiction. A quarter of all respondents (25 percent) rate the state’s performance in this area as poor, and another 37 percent rate the state’s performance as fair. Thirty-five percent of Republicans—contrasted with only 11 percent of Democrats—rate the state’s performance in addressing opiate addiction as poor.
A very slim majority of Vermonters (51 percent) say that the state is heading in the right direction, while 44 percent say that Vermont is on the wrong track. Democrats are far more likely to say that the state is heading in the right direction (81 percent) than are Republicans (27 percent) or independents (43 percent); in fact, both independents and Republicans are more likely to say that the state is on the wrong track (49 percent and 68 percent, respectively).
No single issue consumes Vermont voters, although four issues rise to the top of concerns in all regions of the state: taxes, the economy and jobs, healthcare, and drugs and opiate addiction. In southern Vermont (Bennington, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor counties), the most prominent issue is drugs and opiates, cited by 24 percent of those interviewed. In northern Vermont (Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and the Northeast Kingdom) and central Vermont (Addison, Orange, and Washington counties), the economy and jobs is the primary concern (21 percent and 18 percent, respectively).
A plurality of Vermont voters (49 percent) favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, while 41 percent oppose legalization. Support is highest among younger voters and lowest among those over 65 years of age. A majority of Democrats (60 percent) and independents (51 percent) favor legalization, whereas a majority of Republicans (54 percent) oppose legalization.
Half of those surveyed favor moving forward with wind power development while 41 percent favor a moratorium for a few years to allow for further study of wind farms. Regionally, only northern Vermont is more likely to favor a moratorium than oppose it. Also, Republicans (51 percent) are more likely to support delaying the development of more wind power projects than are Democrats (30 percent) and independents (42 percent).
A slim plurality of Vermont voters (44 percent) favor pushing ahead to become the first state in the union to establish a single-payer healthcare system; 42 percent oppose moving forward toward single payer. Support for single payer is highest among Democrats (72 percent) and lowest among Republicans (11 percent). independents are slightly more likely to be against single payer (44 percent) than for it (41 percent). As for the funding of single-payer healthcare, 21 percent favor using income taxes, 15 percent favor payroll taxes, and 6 percent favor a combination of taxes. Apart from that, 31 percent suggest some other form of tax (including corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy), and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all respondents say that they are simply not sure how to fund single payer.
That the method for funding K12 public education in Vermont is in need of change is something that a majority of Vermonters can support regardless of age, region, gender, or political party. Overall, 59 percent say that Vermont should change the way it funds public education, and only 30 percent say that the current system for funding K12 education is working well.