VT-AL in Play?

I have been fairly skeptical towards claims tha the Republicans have a shot at picking up the House seat being vacated by Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. But a new survey released by GOP pollster Public Opinion Strategies has caused me to be slightly less optimistic than before. Jonathan E. Kaplan has the details in Tuesday's issue of The Hill.

Vermont state Sen. Peter Welch (D) barely leads Martha Rainville (R) in the race for the state's at-large congressional seat, according to a poll released late last week by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm.

Welch leads Rainville 45-42 percent; the poll's margin of error is 4.6 percent. Republicans like their prospects in this race because Rainville, the former head of the National Guard, has high name recognition.

Even though the poll shows that 28 percent of voters are "definitely" voting for Rainville while 30 percent are "definitely" voting for Welch, she is narrowly leading Welch in some of Vermont's most Republican counties. In Burlington, she leads Welch 47-41 percent.

This is a Republican poll, so the results should be taken with at least a grain of salt. But according to the firm's website, it has polled in Vermont before -- in 2002, during the successful gubernatorial bid of Republican Jim Douglas -- so the numbers should not be dismissed out of hand.

There are a few factors that temper my newfound -- well, let's call it decrease in optimism. The first is that Vermont is a progressive state, one that does not like President Bush very much. In fact, according to the June polling from SurveyUSA, George W. Bush's approval rating in Vermont was lower than in any other state. The second is that the Senatorial contast up the ballot is not even close to competitive, with Sanders blowing Republican Ritchie Tarrant out of the water. The third is that the Iraq War is not popular around the country -- and especially unpopular in Vermont -- so Rainville's military qualifications may not only be a positive for her. The fourth is that, as of the latest filing period, Welch holds close to a 2.5:1 cash-on-hand advantage over Rainville.

At this point, I tend to agree with the rating ths race has garnered from the Cook Political Report (.pdf): "Leans Democrat." That said, we should keep an eye on this race through election day to make certain that it doesn't get away from us and make it that much more difficult to retake the House this fall.

Tags: House 2006, Vermont, VT-AL (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Re: VT-AL in Play?

Rainville leads 47-41 in Burlington?  That's ridiculous.  This is a bogus poll.

by Thaddeus 2006-07-17 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

If we manage to lose a seat in Vermont in a year like 2006 is shaping up to be, then we deserve to not win back the House.

In this state, in this year, and with this kind of importance, we deserve to lose and everything that entails if we can't hold THIS seat.

by jgarcia 2006-07-17 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

I agree with above commenters. I'm in Burlington now and haven't seen a single Rainville sign or bumpersticker. Welch, on the other hand, seems to be everywhere.

by afertig 2006-07-17 08:05PM | 0 recs
A Mental Exercise (Off-Topic)

Imagine that you were a progressive American, and hated the Bush/Cheney administration for all the usual reasons: their cronyism with Big Oil, their tax cuts for the rich, the continuous erosion of civil liberties, and their lies, lies, lies....

But what if, in spite of this, it was common belief, for liberals and conservatives alike, that Sadaam Hussein actually HAD developed Weapons of Mass Destruction, was connected to Al Qaeda, and was an imminent threat to us; therefore, our invasion/occupation of Iraq was completely justified?

Imagine that it was such a "given" that the administration and the media were telling us all we needed to know that we steadfastly went along with their masquerade?   And if we ran across bits of information that contradicted the official story, we would ignore it, much as a conservative will ignore the facts that a liberal gives them because they conflict with their established world view.

In such a scenario, the pressure to believe the conventional wisdom would be so intense that few would have the courage to express their doubts publicly ... to their friends, family, and fellow liberals.  And those occasional musings from people who've stumbled on news stories or websites or books that doubted the official Bush story would be denounced as lies and crackpot theories.

Thankfully, we know that the war was unjustified and was based on lies.  But think for a minute.... are there any other assumptions that we as Americans from all over the political spectrum hold?  Beliefs about the world that we live in that might actually have been manipulated by the Bush/Cheney administration and the media?   Are there any tidbits of information that we have run across in the last few years that just don't quite stack up, but we ignore because they contradict our established beliefs?  Is there anything that a few daring souls are starting to espouse, only to be shot down, by the likes of both Kos AND Hannity?

Perhaps it's time to start questioning some of the beliefs that we hold about our world since Bush entered office and the reason he has been able to remain President in spite of our efforts.  If enough of us start to question our assumptions, as I recently did, we might start noticing, and even welcoming, new perspectives about the current administration.  Maybe we can start talking to our friends and fellow progressives about it rather than worrying about what they will think of us if we discuss such matters.

Our leaders are far worse than most of us can admit to ourselves, and everything we need to know is out there, just slightly hidden, if we look hard enough.  That's all I'm saying for now.

by slowboilingfrog 2006-07-17 08:32PM | 0 recs
Rambling on

The time to ask why was in 2004. Then one must ask why no one asks why.

I was flabbergasted while canvassing in 2004 in an upscale neighborhood. People were very hesitant to talk to me about the election until I told them I was against the war.  (I worked for a non partisan group.) After I told them my beliefs, they opened up like flood gates.

I was in northern Florida. I could not believe the anti Bush sentiment. These uneducated reactionaries weren't afraid to speak their minds. An observer could plainly see that virtiually no one likes this president, administration, legislature.  

It will be interesting to see who wins the race for governor. Why is the race in Vermont even close?  Who are these people?  I haven't run into many of them lately.  Is it really a split based on abortion rights? Something else?  

by misscee 2006-07-18 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: A Mental Exercise (Off-Topic)

This is what diaries are for. It is not what front page articles on specific races is for.

by bruorton 2006-07-18 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

Hopefully its a bad poll.  But I think Rainville is one of the best candidates the Republicans have this year: a long record of military service and the ability to be a pretend moderate.  

by bosdcla14 2006-07-17 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

The money story does not back this up.  Through 6/30 Welch has $815,988 cash on hand; Rainville has $359,211.  When Republicans can't raise money, that is usually a good signal that the race is not competitive.

The timing of this poll just after the FEC data is available makes it even more suspect in my eyes.  Rainville needed good news desperately to remain credible.  Isn't it funny that it comes from a GOP polling outfit at this magic moment in time?

by David Kowalski 2006-07-18 01:04AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

Oops, even worse, $339,221 for rainville.  That's the trouble with these late night posts.  Sorry.

by David Kowalski 2006-07-18 01:06AM | 0 recs
Can't take nothing for granted

Why should us Dems take this seat for granted??  There's a republican governor of VT is there not?  Welch has to run a smart race even if he's got $2million dollars.  The people of VT are smart people and will vote what's best for them, if they vote for Rainville it'll be because VT voters thought she'll do a better job.  Bush's 20% poll numbers won't make this a walk for Welch if anything, it'll make his campaign complacent

by gasperc 2006-07-18 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

I think it's time for Peter Welch to do a poll of his own.

Also I doubt Rainville will do so well (even in a Republican poll) once Welch ties her to the radical right-wing republicans. This won't be hard to do since she's already taken contributions from Denny Hastert and his ilk.

Basically if Welch is smart he'll pin every frustration that Democrats and Progressives have had over the last 6 years with this government on Republicans. She being a republican, will have to answer those charges.

by adamterando 2006-07-18 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

The image of Al Gore up in your logo has me thinking, what about global warming? While this may not have traditionally been a big issue in local politics, the issue is getting a lot of play lately and is generating some incipient bills like Waxman's.

The issue might resonate with voters, could this become a wedge issue in a close Vermont race? Do Vermonters want a Representative that will act on global warming?

by DianaJ 2006-07-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

From my vantage point in southern Vermont, Democrats should be very concerned about this race. It seems to be a case of just expecting Bernie's seat to be handed over to them. Welch has had a pretty low profile, while Rainville has had a lot of visibility.  

Also, while we are overwhelmingly anti-war in the State, we are also very supportive of the troops -- the Vermont National Guard has made great sacrifices, and just about everyone in the State has a neighbor or relative or colleague who has served. Unless Welch can really highlight Rainvillle's unerring support for the Bush war strategy (or absence thereof), this sentiment will work in Rainville's favor.

This race is unfortunately too remiscent of the Governor's race in '04 -- Clavelle was the heir-apparent to Dean, was well-known in Burlington but nowhere else in the State, and the D's just took the statehouse race for granted. Douglas slipped in while everyone paid attention to the Presidential race.

Nothing can be taken for granted at this point.

by DukeJ 2006-07-18 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

(correction)  Douglas slipped into the Statehouse during the '02 race, mainly because the Dems and Progressives both ran candidates. But the Governorship really should have been wrested back in '04 by Clavelle.

by DukeJ 2006-07-18 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

I diaried on this race back in the beginning (last winter) when it looked quite possible that both candidates could face spirited primaries (now only Rainville has a nominal winger opponent with no cash). Things haven't really heated up yet, but I guess I'll do a general round-up of the state of the race as I see it soon for further discussion.

As for this poll, I would say it's specifically BS, but generally reflective of reality. No way in hell is Rainville going to take Burlington (it is the Progressive capitol of the state) but I imagine an accurate poll would have both candidates in the mid thirties to low forties. Both need statewide ID, and I will guarantee that this race will be close.

How close we will just have to see, but I'll look at the factors in a separate diary.

by bruorton 2006-07-18 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL

While I agree that, in the abstract, Martha Rainville is a bit of a coup in recruitment and should probably make for a credible bid for the seat, she hasn't even won her primary yet.  All the Republican-leaning pundits are crowing over what a threat she is to the Democrats' hope for an avalanche in November, but the fact is that Vermont Republicans haven't yet even given her their nomination and won't, until September 12, unless Shepherd withdraws. Since he showed up on Sunday for a candidates' debate in Castleton, it doesn't look like he's going to. I suspect what's going on is a Republican version of a Rahm Emmanuel force-feed. The national party wants her. It's not clear yet that Vermont Republicans do.  

The Welch campaign is very, very well advised to continue treating Mark Shepherd with the courteous respect due a serious opponent.

by Christopher Walker 2006-07-18 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL

You're quite right, and Welch is doing so. Shepard will soldier on (despite having just lost his second campaign manager because he couldn't afford him), but there's no way he'll beat Rainville. I'd bet she'll win on name recognition alone, despite the CW of a more activist leaning to primaries.

by bruorton 2006-07-18 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

Also, I don't think it's technically true that Douglas won in '02 because the Democrats and the progressives both ran candidates.  The serious progressive candidate, Anthony Polina, ran in 2000, when the R candidate was Ruth Dwyer.  In 2002, when Douglas Pollina ran for Lt. Governor.  

There was, indeed, a three way race in '02, but it was between Clavelle (D), Douglas (R) and Con Hogan, a right-wing "independent."  Hogan was well to the right of Douglas, making the Douglas upset victory in '02 doubly impressive.    

by GrnMtnBy 2006-07-18 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: VT-AL in Play?

You're a little confused. The Democrat in '02 was Racine (Clavelle ran in '04), and I'm not sure I'd characterize Hogan as right-wing. I think he got non-ideological folks from the middle who just don't like the big parties, as well as Republicans and Libertarian types.

In any case, Douglas' victory, while an "upset" in a sense, was hardly impressive. We were coming off a 10-year Democrat (Dean) when a change of party is most likely, the national Republicans were shoveling loads of money into the race, and he barely got a plurality (46%) over Racine and had to be elected by ballot in the legislature (along with Lt. Gov. Dubie, who only got 42% that year).

by bruorton 2006-07-18 03:00PM | 0 recs

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