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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Sept. 2020 VPR-Vermont PBS Poll: Gov. Scott Very Popular, Lt. Gov Race, Vaccine Eagerness Toss-ups

A bar graph showing phil scott with a much larger bar than david zuckerman
Kyle Blair
Vermont PBS
According to the latest VPR-Vermont PBS poll, Gov. Phil Scott enjoys a commanding lead over Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman in the gubenatorial race.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott is coasting to reelection and has become more popular than the three Democrats who serve in Vermont's Congressional delegation according to a new poll from VPR and Vermont PBS.

Meanwhile, six weeks from Election Day, the state's lieutenant governor's race is a statistical dead heat, and fewer than 50% of Vermonters say they are eager to take a COVID-19 vaccine in the next year.

Full September VPR-Vermont PBS 2020 Poll 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 604 respondents between Sept. 3 and Sept. 15  over landlines and cell phones. The poll has an overall margin of error of 4%.

Phil Scott

Scott is leading Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman 55% to 24% as he seeks a third term in office, with 16% undecided. And Scott's 68% approval rating bests U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, whose ratings are at 61% and 56% respectively, and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, at 57%.

More from VPR: After Win In Primary, Zuckerman Faces Incumbent Battle-Tested By COVID-19

So popular is Scott that he could potentially unseat Leahy in the 2022 U.S. Senate election, when Leahy would be eligible to seek a ninth term. Scott leads Leahy 41% to 38% — a toss-up — in that theoretical matchup.

Other races

The only close statewide race is the battle to succeed Zuckerman as lieutenant governor. The poll finds Democrat Molly Gray at 35% and Republican Scott Milne at 31%, a virtual tie. The race likely hinges on how the large block of undecided voters in that race — 24% — breaks in the final weeks of the campaign.

More from VPR: Vermont's Universal Mail-In Voting Has Campaigns Rethinking Outreach

Meanwhile, Welch is up 57% to 18% over his little-known Republican challenger, Miriam Berry.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 56% to 32%. That result would be almost identical to Vermont's vote in the 2016 presidential election of Trump against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Most Biden supporters are motivated to get rid of Trump. Only 30% of Biden's voters said they are casting ballots out of a desire to support the candidate, while 63% said their Biden vote would be primarily driven by opposition to Trump.

A bar graph from the September VPR-Vermont PBS poll showing who people would vote for if the presidential election was held today: 32 percent say Donald Trump, 56 percent say Joe Biden
Credit Kyle Blair / Vermont PBS
Vermont PBS File
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a healthy lead over President Donald Trump in the most recent VPR-Vermont PBS poll.

Marijuana, a COVID-19 vaccine and school during a pandemic

With the Legislature poised to approve a tax-and-regulate system for retail marijuana sales, the poll finds the idea is hugely popular. Some 68% support such a plan, with only 24% opposed.

And as public health officials are becoming increasingly assertive in urging people to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, the poll shows experts may have reason to be concerned: 48% said they would be very eager, or somewhat eager, to get vaccinated within the next 12 months, while 43% said they would be somewhat reticent, or very reticent.

More from Brave Little State: When It's Ready, Who Gets The COVID-19 Vaccine First?

When asked, given the current state of the pandemic, whether they supported reopening K-12 schools for in-person learning, 52% of respondents supported it, with 34% opposed. And 48% favored reopening Vermont's colleges and universities for in-person classes, with 42% 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 Sept. 3 to Sept. 15, the VPR - Vermont PBS 2020 Poll asked hundreds of Vermonters how they felt about political candidates, a COVID-19 vaccine, retail marijuana 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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