Friday, August 5, 2011

Vermont Miscellany

-Gay marriage has been legal in Vermont for almost 2 years now and most voters in the state say it's had no impact on their lives. 60% say it's been a non factor for them personally to 22% who say it'd had a positive effect on them and 18% who say it's had a negative one.

A strong majority of voters in the state- 58%- are glad that same sex marriage is legal to only 33% opposed. And even among those who remain opposed 55% admit that its legalization has had no effect on their lives.

When you add civil unions to the equation 79% of voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples- 55% preferring marriage and 24% civil unions- with only 18% opposing any sorts of rights. Even 56% of Republicans support either gay marriage or civil unions.

-There aren't a lot of states where a Senator can have a 62% approval rating and be the less popular member of the delegation but that's where Pat Leahy finds himself. That 62% mark- with 31% disapproving- ties him for the 7th most popular out of 86 sitting Senators PPP has polled on. But it doesn't stack up to Bernie Sanders' 67/28 spread. Leahy's popularity is less than Sanders' across the board but interestingly the largest disparity is with Republicans, only 15% of whom think Leahy's doing a good job compared to 25% for Sanders.

You'd be hard pressed to find a Congressional delegation more popular than Vermont's. House member Peter Welch has a 59% approval rating with only 29% of voters disapproving of him. If he can maintain that level of popularity he'll be a pretty logical replacement whenever one of the state's Senate seats opens up.

-Voters in the state are closely divided on two of its major policy issues. 40% support the new single payer health care law with 35% opposed and 25% unsure. And 45% think the Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plan should continue to operate while 41% believe that it should be shut down. Democrats support the health care law and oppose the power plan, Republicans oppose the health care law and support the power plant, and helping to tip the scales is that independents support both the health care law and the power plant.

-We took a look at how voters feel about a couple of the state's former elected officials who played major roles in national politics in the early 2000's. Former Senator Jim Jeffords, whose party switch handed Democrats control of the Senate in 2001, has a 52% favorable rating with 22% of voters giving him negative marks. Jeffords may have served most of his career as a Republican but his pivot has left him permanent unpopular with those voters, 27% of whom rate him favorably and 49% unfavorably. But his stellar numbers with Democrats (62/10) and independents (58/18) make him quite popular overall.

Howard Dean has an identical 52% favorability rating, although his negatives are a good deal higher than Jeffords' at 38%. Unsurprisingly he is a more polarizing figure than many of the other state's major politicians. 78% of Democrats view him positively but at the same time 82% of Republicans give him a negative rating. He does come out ahead with independents at 53/35.

Jeffords, Dean, Sanders, Leahy, Welch, Jim Douglas, and Peter Shumlin account for all of Vermont's Governors, Senators, and House members this century and they all have positive poll numbers with each of them above 50% with the exception of Shumlin. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a state more fond of its politicians than Vermont.

-We took a quick look at a potential State Treasurer's race between appointed incumbent Beth Pearce and potential Republican challenger Randy Brock. Brock would start out ahead 36-33 but with a very significant 31% of voters are undecided. And 32% of Democrats say they would be undecided compared to only 17% of Republicans. So that's pretty much a wash.

-And finally we've been talking about how popular Bernie Sanders is the whole week we've been releasing this Vermont poll so in that context this finding is amusing- only 20% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Socialism to 46% who view it negatively. But the voters there either love Bernie anyway or just don't realize he's a Socialist.

Full results here


Sam said...

I'm not surprised by the number on the issue of marriage. In fact, I'm happy about them.

Anonymous said...

Those numbers seem to back up the theory that "Socialism" has become a meaningless buzzword, interchangeably used to describe "tyrannical regime" or "basic safety net" depending on the desired context.

Bob said...


I am the person who suggested the "personal impact" question relating to same-sex marriage. I just want to thank you for soliciting and actually listening to, input from your blog readers. This really demonstrates that PPP is an organization which is focused on gleaning the most useful data in the most accurate manner, and which will not let things like pride of authorship get in the way of that goal.

As I mentioned when I suggested this question, the only other time it has been asked (to my knowledge) was by the Des Moines Register in 2010, on the 1st anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage. The response in that poll was 92% no impact and 8% some impact. The DMR did not break out the impact b/t positive and negative.

That result surprised me. I expected a response more like the one you obtained in VT. Not b/c I think that there really has been much impact either way, but rather b/c on a hot button social issue, there would be a natural tendency to support one's political position with an affirmation that the issue has real personal impact. In that regard, I wonder how it might have affected the results if the personal impact question had come *before* the question about support/opposition. I suspect you would have seen a higher percentage saying "no impact" if that question had come first, although probably not 92%.

Anyway, thanks for doing such a great job!

Dustin Ingalls said...

I think a lot of the "no impact" people in IA would have said "positive impact" if offered the choice, to reaffirm their support for gay marriage.

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