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Poll Shows Vermont Governor’s Approval Sliding

Just months after narrowly winning a second term, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s approval rating is floundering. That’s according to a new poll from Vermont Digger and the Castleton Polling Institute.

Vermont Digger, an online investigative newspaper, conducts a poll yearly with the Castleton Polling Institute. This year they asked 10 questions of 700 Vermonters and the results are being published in segments.
The assessments of the governor, legislature and the direction the state is headed show 47 percent of voters disapprove and 41 percent approve of Governor Peter Shumlin. Vermont Digger Assignment Editor Tom Brown says voters indicated in November, when he barely won the popular vote, the Democrat has problems.  “He’s dropped five points since November. Part of that I think is because he was wounded so badly in that election that people wonder how much power or authority he really wields around the Statehouse. People have some questions about his sincerity and, not ethics, but just his honesty in dealing with people. I don’t recall a sitting governor being in a negative approval rating. In fact as Eric Davis one of our political analysts from Middlebury College points out no sitting governor in Vermont has been defeated in some 50 years and Shumlin, should he run for re-election, might face that outcome. So it’s unique, the lack of support the governor has right now

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis. “The slow erosion of support that we saw last year has continued over the last several months. If this trend continues and his approval rating falls into the 30 percent range that would put him in a very challenging situation for re-election.  

Davis continues. “We don’t know whether Peter Shumlin’s going to run for re-election or not. If he does run for re-election his challenge is going to be that he’s likely to face two opponents. There’ll be a Republican opponent.  If the Republicans can get behind one candidate early and that person can raise money and maybe get some outside help from the Republican Governor’s Association, that Republican candidate is likely to be a formidable opponent. But there’s also likely to be a Progressive candidate in the race who will get votes from people who might very well have voted for Shumlin. So Shumlin has to be concerned about losing support both to a Republican candidate and a Progressive candidate.”

The governor was out of state Tuesday. His office released a short statement: “We are not going to comment on polling results. We are focused on balancing the budget and getting results for Vermonters.”

The poll shows a 41 percent approval rate for the Legislature while 32 percent disapprove. But 26 percent are not sure what to think of their work. Brown believes the voters are waiting to see what is done to relieve property taxes.  “Our public schools are financed almost entirely through property taxes. A House committee has just passed out its first version of a education finance reform bill which is just being digested and has a long way to go. At first blush it seems that voters don’t really understand what’s contained in that. So it’s basically wait and see, are you going to fix my property taxes or not?”

The poll also posed questions on background checks for gun sales, a sugar sweetened beverage tax, the governor’s decision to back away from single-payer health care, and education finance reform.

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