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July 2020 VPR-Vermont PBS Poll: Big Support For Gov. Scott, Black Lives Matter And Masks

Two pie charts
Kyle Blair
Vermont PBS
A new VPR-Vermont PBS poll shows a majority of Vermonters approve of Gov. Phil Scott's handling of both COVID-19 and race issues.

Vermont residents support a mask mandate, the Black Lives Matter movement and the leadership of Gov. Phil Scott, according to a new poll from VPR and Vermont PBS.

The poll, which examined Vermonters' views on the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests over racial inequality, offers a snapshot of how residents are viewing coinciding historic events that touch everyone's lives. It found widespread variances by gender and region, and some seemingly contradictory answers on race.

Full July VPR - Vermont PBS Poll 2020 Results

The poll was supervised by Rich Clark, a professor of political science and former director of polling at the Castleton Polling Institute, and was conducted by Braun Research Inc., a New Jersey firm. Pollsters interviewed 603 respondents between July 15 and July 28 over landlines and cell phones. The poll has an overall margin of error of 4%.

COVID-19 pandemic

Some 66% of respondents said they were either very concerned or somewhat concerned about contracting COVID-19, and 40% said they knew someone who has already come down with the virus.

Vermonters indicated the pandemic's impact on their mental health: 49% said they have experienced increased anxiety since the pandemic began, and 26% said they have experienced depression.

A large majority — 77% — said they are either very or somewhat concerned about out-of-state people coming to Vermont and potentially spreading the virus. Only 7% said they had no concern about that happening.

More from VPR: Scott Loosens Travel Restrictions Into And Out Of Vermont

Racism in Vermont

A majority of Vermonters think racism is a problem in their state, but even more are convinced that their own communities are welcoming places: 59% said that racism is either a big problem or somewhat of a problem in Vermont, while 40% said it was a small problem or no problem at all.

Yet 81% of respondents said their communities were welcoming of racial and ethnic diversity, with 9% labeling their communities as "unwelcoming."

A bar graph showing whether people think racism is a problem in Vermont
Credit Kyle Blair / Vermont PBS
Vermont PBS
A majority of Vermonters think racism is either a big or somewhat of a problem according to a new VPR-Vermont PBS poll.

The Black Lives Matter movement has 66% support, with 25% opposed. Women were more likely to support Black Lives matter than men, and Chittenden County residents support it at a higher rate than residents of other regions.

But at the same time Vermonters say them support BLM, they also give relatively high marks to law enforcement: 61% say they have either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Vermont police, and only 16% believe that police "regularly discriminate against people of color."

More from VPR: Crowd Confronts Burlington Police During Protest For George Floyd

Phil Scott

The poll contained some bad news for anyone running against Scott, either in the Republican primary next week or the November general election: 83% of respondents approved of Scott's leadership during the pandemic, with only 12% disapproving.

Some 66% of respondents approved of the governor's handling of race issues in Vermont, with 17% disapproving, and another 17% unsure.

More from VPR: Debate Round-Up: Republican Gov. Candidates Talk Pandemic, Criticize Gov. Scott's Response

The poll was in the field as Scott issued his executive order mandating that most Vermonters wear masks in public. Remarkably, Scott's pandemic approval rating was running at 96% before he issued the mask mandate. It dropped to 84% after the mandate, with almost all of that loss in support coming from Republicans.

The mask mandate itself is popular: 76% support it, with 22% opposed.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet managing editor Mark Davis @MarkDavisVT.

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A green and blue logo that says "VPR - Vermont PBS 2020 Polls"

From July 15 to July 28, the VPR - Vermont PBS 2020 Poll asked hundreds of Vermonters how they felt about COVID-19, racial inequality and other issues.  Explore the full results here.

Mark Davis has spent more than a decade working as a reporter in Vermont, focusing on both daily and long-form stories. Prior joining Vermont Public as assistant news director, he worked for five years at Seven Days, the alt-weekly in Burlington, where he won national awards for his criminal justice reporting. Before that, he spent nine years at the Valley News, where won state and national awards for his coverage of the criminal justice system, Topical Storm Irene, and other topics. He has also served as a producer and editor for the Rumblestrip podcast. He graduated from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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