Politics

UNH poll: Scott, Zuckerman hold double-digit leads in races for governor and LG

Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, right, holds a 17-point lead over his opponent Brenda Siegel with decided voters, according to new polling from the University of New Hampshire. Photos by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

If polls are any indication, Republican Gov. Phil Scott and former Lieutenant Gov. David Zuckerman may be serving alongside one another once again come January.

According to recently released results from polling conducted by the University of New Hampshire for WCAX, Scott holds a double-digit lead over his Democratic challenger Brenda Siegel in the gubernatorial race. Of those polled, 48% said that if the election were held today they would vote for Scott, while 31% said they would support Siegel, giving Scott a 17-point lead with decided voters. 

Independent candidates Kevin Hoyt, Peter Duval and Bernard Peters each polled in the single digits. Currently undecided voters made up 13% percent of those polled.

The poll was conducted online between Sept. 29 and Oct. 3, and 765 Vermonters participated. The margin of error is 3.5%.

There is more than one month until Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, but Vermonters are receiving their mail-in ballots. Siegel faces the hurdle of name recognition in competition with a third-term governor with high approval ratings.

Siegel has not held office before, but has competed in statewide elections twice. In this week’s poll, 41% of respondents said they did not know enough about Siegel to hold an opinion of her. But she’s gaining ground: In April, that number was 73%.

On the other hand, Scott was widely recognized by survey respondents; only 2% said they did not know enough to hold an opinion of him. Of respondents, 52% said they view him favorably, 24% neutrally and 22% unfavorably — rendering his net favorability rating +30.

Mirroring past survey data, UNH reported that Scott is viewed “somewhat favorably” with voters across the political spectrum, including Democrats and independents, despite his Republican label. His job performance approval rating has dipped slightly since UNH’s last survey in July, from 66% to 63%.

Among poll respondents, 24% said they view Siegel favorably, 13% neutrally and 22% unfavorably. Her net favorability rating is +2, according to the poll. By comparison, in April, among those who knew enough to form an opinion, UNH found that 11% viewed her favorably, 10% neutrally and 5% unfavorably.

Siegel’s campaign appeared heartened by this week’s results, writing in a Wednesday email that the campaign is “crushing all expectations!”

“Ever since we started this campaign, we’ve been counted out,” the email to supporters said. “We were told that we couldn’t compete with our incumbent Republican Governor. Because of you, together, we are proving them wrong. This is a competitive race and we are ready to go.”

Down the ballot in the race for lieutenant governor, 51% of respondents said they would vote for Zuckerman, a Progressive/Democrat who previously held the same position for two two-year terms before leaving the office to challenge Scott in the 2020 gubernatorial race. Of respondents, 35% said they plan to vote for Joe Benning, a moderate Republican and veteran of the Vermont state Senate, leaving Zuckerman with a 16-point lead with decided voters.

Voters undecided about who should serve as the state’s No. 2 executive make up 12%. Those undecided voters will be vital in determining which candidate prevails next month, given the poll’s margin of error.

Benning also has a way to go when it comes to name recognition. Of those surveyed this week, 52% said they don’t know enough about him to hold an opinion. Of those who do, 14% said they view him favorably, 24% neutrally and 10% unfavorably. UNH concluded that Benning is “somewhat popular” with Republicans, while Democrats and independents are “divided in their opinion.”

Zuckerman was more widely recognized than his Republican competitor, with only 10% saying they did not know enough about him. Of respondents, 34% viewed him favorably, 22% neutrally and 34% unfavorably. While Zuckerman is popular with Democrats, UNH reported, he is unpopular among independents and “very unpopular” with Republicans.

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Sarah Mearhoff

About Sarah

Sarah Mearhoff is one of VTDigger's political reporters, covering the Vermont statehouse, executive branch and congressional delegation. Prior to joining Digger, she covered Minnesota and South Dakota state politics for Forum Communications' newspapers across the Upper Midwest for three years. She has also covered politics in Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she is a proud alumna of the Pennsylvania State University where she studied journalism.

Email: smearhoff@vtdigger.org

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