Occasionally I'll step out of the sphere of state legislative politics to comment on what is going on in Vermont - partially because there aren't that many places in Vermont where that type of commentary is occurring. So when I heard last week that Public Policy Polling was going to be heading into the field in Vermont, I was incredibly excited.

Their first batch of results is out today, and it is all about Senator Bernie Sanders.  The results are fairly unsurprising - Senator Sanders is safely over 50% against all challengers, despite the fact that Vermonters have positive views of all of his possible opponents.

What I was more interested in seeing was the favorability ratings among Vermont republicans, compared to the advantage for Democrats in state. In the following chart, I have the favorability data from the PPP poll, and then I took their net favorability and added it to the Democratic margin of victory in the state.  My rationale for doing so is that the most votes a Republican can expect to receive are all of those of their own party, and all the votes of Democrats who have a positive opinion of them.

I think that's a pretty accurate representation of the respective candidate's current ceilings - had Anthony Pollina not been in the 2008 race, I wouldn't have been surprised for Douglas to rack up something near that total (though never all the way - there are plenty of people who like Douglas but would never vote for him - there are also just a LOT of people who like him and WILL vote for him.

I'm surprised to see Brian Dubie's numbers so high given how damaging the last campaign was to his reputation. I think this really leads credence to the idea that Dubie could get in the race again, and be competitive, by running a Vermont-centric campaign, as opposed to outsourcing everything to national consulting groups that were totally tone deaf.

Phil Scott remains is good position, but not an unbeatable one - it would be really great to see a strong Democrat come in and put him up against the ropes - Steve Howard could have done it last cycle, but nobody seemed to provide his campaign with the support he needed when he needed it most.

Finally, it is nice to see Lauzon underwater, even at really low recognition levels. The idea of a Lauzon candidacy as anything more than a sideshow has always been funny to me - he really lacks the appeal to expand to a broader audience, and if Republicans are serious about him, then they are wildly overrating the Barre Mayor's office as a stepping stone for statewide politics.

As PPP releases more data throughout the week, we will be sure to follow up - keep your fingers crossed that we'll get some great numbers on the Governor's race, and maybe the Treasurer contest.

Finally, today I'm helping out a friend who is exactly the kind of legislator that gives me hope - the kind of person you want to discover when doing projects like this one.  Vermont Rep. Kesha Ram is turning 25 today, and I wrote a diary over at Daily Kos about the incredible work she is doing.  As a birthday gift, I'm encouraging people to donate $10 today - please read the diary or click the flyer below, and consider helping out one of the progressive leader's of the future.

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