Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin can't match the popularity of Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, or Peter Welch. But he would still be in a pretty solid position to win a second term as Governor if the election was today.
45% of voters approve of Shumlin to 36% who disapprove. The good news for him is that he's on narrowly positive ground with independents at 41/34. The bad news is that he has virtually no support from Republicans- only an 11% approval rating- and GOP voters are more unified in their disapproval (73%) of Shumlin than Democrats are in their support for him (71%). That approval rating with his own party is decent but certainly not in the same league with his statewide colleagues.
Even if he's not setting the world on fire approval wise Shumlin does appear to be a little bit stronger than he was back in November when he defeated Brian Dubie by just a 2 point margin. In a hypothetical rematch Shumlin would now lead Dubie 48-40, thanks largely to a 47-38 advantage with independents. It's going to be very hard for Republicans to knock off a Democratic incumbent in a Presidential election year in Vermont- Dubie's best chance may have been last year or it might be in an upcoming off year election but it looks like 2012 could be a challenge.
Dubie would easily be Shumlin's strongest challenger. He leads by anywhere from 17-27 points against the other five Republicans we tested against him- it's 17 over Phil Scott at 50-33, 19 over Tom Salmon at 50-31, 21 over Mark Snelling at 50-29, 22 over Randy Brock at 51-29, and 27 over Thom Lauzon at 52-25.
Shumlin's pretty solid numbers speak to a broader trend in our polling- the few new Democratic Governors who were elected last fall are almost all proving to be pretty popular. Shumlin joins California's Jerry Brown, Colorado's John Hickenlooper, Hawaii's Neil Abercrombie, Minnesota's Mark Dayton, and Oregon's John Kitzhaber with positive approval numbers in PPP's polling. We haven't polled New York but the massive amount of public polling in that state makes it clear Andrew Cuomo is very popular as well. The one exception to the popular new Democratic Governors is Connecticut's Dan Malloy, who we found under water on a poll this spring.
The strong numbers of the new Democratic Governors are a sharp contrast to what we've found for the 13 new Republican Governors we've polled on. 7 of them- Florida's Rick Scott, Iowa's Terry Branstad, Maine's Paul LePage, Michigan's Rick Snyder, Ohio's John Kasich, Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, and Wisconsin's Scott Walker- are under water. The 6 with positive approval numbers are Georgia's Nathan Deal, Nevada's Brian Sandoval, New Mexico's Susana Martinez, South Dakota's Dennis Daugaard, South Carolina's Nikki Haley, and Tennessee's Bill Haslam.
The fact that the new Democratic Governors are so much more popular than the new Republicans is a definite sign of a shift in the political landscape since last November- certainly things are nowhere near as rosy for Democrats right now as they were in 2006 and 2008. But they're not nearly as dark as they were in 2010 either.
Full results here