Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman greeting Gov. Phil Scott at a State of the State address
Vermont's Republican governor, Phil Scott, is cruising toward a third two-year term, according to a poll released Tuesday by Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS.
Scott is leading Progressive/Democratic Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman 55 to 24 percent, the poll found, and the incumbent governor has the highest favorability rating of the state's top officeholders. Sixty-eight percent of respondents approve of his job performance, while only 17 percent disapprove.
Scott, 62, is so popular that he could topple eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a hypothetical Senate matchup in 2022, the poll found in one of its more provocative questions. The governor has expressed no interest in challenging Leahy, and the 80-year-old senator has not said whether he will run for a ninth term. Still, according to the survey, 41 percent of voters would prefer Scott, while 38 percent would back Leahy.
That lead is within the poll's overall 4 percent margin of error. New Jersey-based Braun Research conducted the survey under the supervision of Castleton University professor Rich Clark. The pollsters reached 604 Vermonters via landline and cellphone during the first two weeks of September. Though the public media organizations surveyed Vermonters about the impact of COVID-19 in July, no major public polls of the election have come out since February.
The race to replace Zuckerman as lieutenant governor appears far more competitive than the gubernatorial contest. The poll found that Democrat Molly Gray, an assistant attorney general, is leading Republican Scott Milne, a travel agency executive, 35 to 31 percent — also within the poll's margin of error. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said they hadn't made up their mind yet or had no opinion on the LG race.
Republican President Donald Trump remains tremendously unpopular in Vermont. Only 30 percent said they approve of his job performance, while 64 percent disapprove. Former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, leads Trump 56 to 32 percent. Of those who plan to vote for Biden, 63 percent said they would do so largely because they oppose Trump.
Respondents were evenly split about when and how they would vote in the general election. Forty-four percent said they would take advantage of Vermont's early voting protocols, while 47 percent said they would wait to cast a ballot until Election Day on November 3. Forty-five percent said they planned to vote by mail, while 49 percent said they would do so in person.
Though a majority of those polled, 54 percent, said they were somewhat or very confident the presidential election would be conducted fairly, 43 percent said they lacked confidence that it would be. Some respondents were so down on national politics that they expressed interest in seceding from the union. Twenty-two percent said they would support reestablishing Vermont as an independent republic, while 64 percent opposed the idea.
Full poll results are available here, cross-tabs can be downloaded here and more on the methodology can be found here.