It's been almost three months, and despite the debates held almost daily among the five Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, or perhaps because of them, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie still holds comfortable leads against any of his potential challengers, according to a new poll conducted by Rasmussen.
The poll, conducted June 17, surveyed 500 Vermonters and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
A similar poll was conducted in mid-March. In that poll, Rasmussen also polled the U.S. Senate race.
The only Democrat who continues to hold Dubie below 50 percent is Secretary of State Deb Markowitz. In a head-to-head match-up, Dubie earns 47 percent and Markowitz 40. In March, the margin was 46 percent for Dubie and 39 percent for Markowitz.
Meanwhile, her Democratic challengers are faring little better in this new poll against the four-term lite gov. Can she hold them off for another 60 days when primary voters go the polls on August 24? Time will tell. And, by the way, Rasmussen got Vermont's primary date wrong — they listed the old date of September 14.
Both Sen. Doug Racine (D-Chittenden) and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin (D-Windham) earn 36 percent of the vote. Since March, that's an uptick of three points for Shumlin and one point for Racine. In other words, well within the poll's margin of error.
The bad news is, though, that Dubie still handily beats both senators. Dubie bested Racine 48-35 in March and 51-36 in June; Dubie bested Shumlin 51-33 in March and 55-36 in June.
When it comes to Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) and former State Senator and current Google exec Matt Dunne, there's simply no contest.
Dubie beats Dunne 52-32, which is a change from 51-29 in March, and he beats Bartlett 55-29, versus 52-26 in March.
Interestingly, both Shumlin and Bartlett have been the Dems most forcefully alleging they are the ones best able to defeat Dubie because they can lure moderates into their corners. So far, the polls aren't bearing that out.
This week, Shumlin did pick up a key endorsement from Treasurer Jeb Spaulding — a guy who once fancied himself a gubernatorial contender. That will certainly send a message to moderate Democrats about where to put their money in this primary.
Still, Shumlin's unfavorable ratings continue to be the highest of all six major party candidates.
Here's how Vermonters polled by Rasmussen viewed each candidate:
• Dubie: 36 percent very favorably; 13 percent very unfavorably.
• Markowitz: 23 percent very favorably; 12 percent very unfavorably.
• Shumlin: 15 percent very favorably; 23 percent very unfavorably.
• Racine: 18 percent very favorably; 15 percent very unfavorably.
• Bartlett: 9 percent very favorably; 16 percent very unfavorably.
• Dunne: 16 percent very favorably; 14 percent very unfavorably
These favorable/unfavorable rankings are similar to results from the March poll.
Vermonters continue to give Gov. Jim Douglas high marks: 64 percent of those polled approve of his performance as the state's chief executive, while only 34 percent disapprove. That's even better than Vermonters give Pres. Barack Obama. Of those polled, 62 percent approve of Pres. Obama and 34 percent disapprove.
According to Rasmussen, Vermont is one of the few states in the country where support for repeal of the national health care plan is lower than opposition to repeal. Of those polled, 41 percent favor repeal, while 52 percent are opposed. This includes 29 percent who strongly favor repeal and 41 percent who strongly oppose it.
Not surprisingly, Rasmussen found that Dubie earns more than 80 percent of the vote of those who "strongly favor" repeal. The Democrats earn most of the vote from those strongly opposed to repeal, but not by such a large margin.
Only 11 percent of Vermonters polled describe themselves as members of the Tea Party movement, compared with 16 percent nationwide. This is actually a drop of 1 percent from the March poll, which found 12 percent of those polled identified with the Tea Party movement.
Again, not a surprise, but more than 90 percent of Tea Party members support Dubie. I wonder if Dubie's recent admission that climate change is real, and exacerbated by humans, will put a dent in those numbers?
Only 35 percent of those polled favor passage of an immigration law like Arizona’s in their state, compared with 55 percent of voters nationally. Half of Vermonters polled oppose such a law. No surprise there, especially given Burlington's recent city council resolution urging the city to boycott Arizona companies. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Arizona citizens.
Dubie wins heavy support from those who favor such a law, while the Democrats draw majority support from those opposed to a law like Arizona’s.
Despite opposition to the Arizona law, 48 percent of those polled support the chief requirement of the Arizona law: that local police check the immigration status of anyone they stop for a traffic violation or some other kind of violation if they suspect the person is an illegal immigrant. Of those polled, 39 percent oppose such a requirement. This, too, is much lower than support for the requirement nationally, according to Rasmussen's poll.
Finally, a rather surprising find in the poll: 41 percent of Vermonters support offshore drilling, while 43 percent oppose it. Gee, I wonder if that means we'll see a deep-water drilling rig on Lake Champlain?