The first public poll of Vermont's 2018 general election found that statewide incumbents have little to fear.
The poll, commissioned by Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS, showed Republican Gov. Phil Scott holding a 42 to 28 percent lead over Democratic nominee Christine Hallquist. Another 22 percent said they were not sure who they would support.
In the five other races surveyed — from attorney general to U.S. Senate — incumbent Democrats, Progressives and independents held double-digit leads over their Republican opponents.
The survey of 495 likely voters was conducted by Braun Research under the direction of Castleton University professor Rich Clark between October 5 and October 15. Its overall margin of error was 4.4 percent, though subsets of the data had a higher margin of error.
The public media stations found that Scott’s approval rating hasn’t budged since July, when their last poll showed 43 percent of those surveyed approved of his job performance and 28 percent disapproved. The October poll found that 45 percent approved and 26 percent disapproved.
In a matchup against Hallquist and the five other candidates on the ballot, Scott prevailed in almost every demographic. Though the governor bucked his party last winter by advocating for new gun restrictions, 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for him, while only 3 percent said they would back Hallquist.
Independents also favored Scott, 36 to 7 percent. Though Hallquist led among Democrats, with 50 percent of those surveyed supporting her candidacy, a full 26 percent said they planned to cross party lines to back the Republican.
The only other voters who clearly favored Hallquist were those between the ages of 18 and 44, who supported her over Scott by 39 to 30 percent. The two candidates were roughly tied among women and those whose education level exceeded a four-year college degree. Men favored Scott over Hallquist 50 to 24 percent.
In the race for lieutenant governor, incumbent Progressive and Democrat David Zuckerman held a slightly wider lead over Republican Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton), the House minority leader. Forty-seven percent of likely voters said they would vote for the first-term lieutenant governor, while 30 percent said they would back Turner.
Vermont's two congressional delegates up for reelection this fall held overwhelming leads, according to the poll. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led Republican Lawrence Zupan 60 to 19 percent, while U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) led Republican Anya Tynio 55 to 18 percent.
In the two other statewide races polled by the public media stations, Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan was beating Rep. Janssen Willhoit (R-St. Johnsbury) 56 to 17 percent, and Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos was ahead of Republican H. Brooke Paige 45 to 22 percent.
While Vermonters appear satisfied with incumbent statewide officeholders, they do not feel the same about the incumbent president. Only 24 percent said they approved of Republican Donald Trump’s job performance, while 59 percent said they disapproved. Among women, the divergence was even wider: 15 percent approved while a full 67 percent disapproved.
The stations asked respondents several policy-oriented questions. They found that a plurality — 46 to 34 percent — supported a paid parental leave program, and a majority — 54 to 28 percent — opposed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Twenty-six percent said they had personally experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in a workplace, while 70 percent said they had not. Thirty-three percent of women answered in the affirmative to that question, while 19 percent of men did.
Asked whether racism is a problem in Vermont, 17 percent said it was a “big problem” and 36 percent said it was “somewhat of a problem.” Twenty-seven percent said racism was a “small problem” and 16 percent said it was “no problem at all.”
Democrats were far more likely to express concern about racism than Republicans, the survey found. Seventy percent of Democrats said it was a problem, while only 30 percent of Republicans did.
Asked to name the single expense that caused the most financial stress, 32 percent cited housing, 18 percent taxes and 15 percent health care. In the comparatively dense Chittenden County, 40 percent named housing as the most stress-inducing cost of living.
Find more results from the poll here, download full results here and learn more about its methodology here.