About that Pearce/Wilton poll

ICYMI, there's a newly-released poll in the race for Treasurer. (It was conducted in late September, but was just made public.) The Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld has a short story, not paywalled, at the VPB website; and a more detailed story, paywalled, on the Times Argus website and in the Saturday paper. (Presumably in the Rutland Herald as well.)

The survey was done by Public Policy Polling, a lefrt-leaning operation out of North Carolina. The results are generally positive for Beth Pearce. Topline:

When voters aren't supplied with party identification, according to Public Policy Polling, Wilton and Pearce are in a statistical dead heat. Asked, however, whether they would vote for "Democrat Beth Pearce or Republican Wendy Wilton," the incumbent leads by 46 percent to 37 percent.

Furthermore, the poll found an electoral edge for single-payer health care: 53% of Vermonters approve of single-payer, while 38% disapprove. And although PPP is known to be left-leaning, the Vermont experts quoted by Hirschfeld say the results are legitimate.

That's the news. Here are a few notes.  
-- The poll indicates that a lot of respondents simply don't know the candidates. The party label alone makes a big difference for quite a few voters.

-- Since the poll was taken a month ago, the results do not reflect the last month's worth of Vermonters First carpet-bombing on WIlton's behalf. And they don't reflect the last couple weeks' worth of charges and counter-charges, in which Pearce has come out with a clear rhetorical advantage.

-- At least some of that partisan advantage should stick with Pearce, since the candidates are party-identified on the ballot.

-- This poll is a positive indicator for Doug Hoffer. Presumably, he'd enjoy a party-identification advantage similar to Pearce's. Perhaps even bigger, since the Auditor's race isn't nearly as high-profile as the Treasurer's.

-- The results appear to reflect the damage done to the Republican brand by the VTGOP's run to the right and the national party's Tea Party and big money orientation.  

-- The year-long efforts to smear health care reform by the VTGOP, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, the Campaign for Vermont (Prosperity), and others, have done virtually nothing to move public opinion. That 38% disapproval is pretty much in line with the hard-core Republican vote in Vermont. They haven't changed the minds of anyone in the middle.

-- Judging by the campaign strategy of WIlton and Vermonters First, I'd say their polling has shown similar results. Wilton is steadfastly denying that she opposes health care reform, so she obviously believes that position would cost her votes. And VF avoids labeling her as a partisan or as a Republican, so they know WIlton is better off running a fundamentally deceptive campaign.  

All in all, the poll is mostly good news for Beth Pearce and the Democrats. But it should also be a warning sign: Don't take your foot off the gas between now and Election Day. Keep getting Pearce's name out there however you can, don't be afraid to associate her with the Democratic Party and health care reform, and keep up the pressure on Wilton. The more the voters know about her real record and intentions, the better it is for Pearce.  

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