VT-AL in Play?
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 07:20:53 PM EDT
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.