The last time that American Research Group Inc. of of Manchester, N.H. did a poll in Vermont, political strategists on both sides of the aisle pooh-poohed the results as way off base. Some of them are bound to be singing the same song again when they see ARG"s latest poll figures.
The new poll, done right after the primary was over on Sept. 13th and 14th, had independent Bernie Sanders ahead of Republican Richard Tarrant in the Senate race, but Tarrant just 15 peercentage points behind. Click here
to see the whole poll.
In July, the last time ARG polled in Vermont, Sanders was said to be 21 percentage points ahead, a number that had Tarrant types smiling. Sanders folks back then all but said the poll was bogus.
"Our internal polling shows us up by 41 points," Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said at the time. "I trust our polling more than this polling." Recently, the Sanders campaign has made a point of saying its internal polling was showing that Tarrant's negative ads were costing him support. The ARG poll, if it is to be believed, says otherwise.
In the House race, ARG had Democrat Peter Welch with 48 percent and Republican Martha Rainville with 45 percent. That's an improvement for Welch from the July ARG poll, where he trailed Rainville by a single percentage point, but it's not welcome news for Peter and Pepper the dog. They'd rather believe a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee internal poll that has them up 10 points over Rainville.
Finally, the ARG poll had Gov. Jim Douglas whupping Democrat Scudder Parker by 27 percentage points, instead of the measly 11-point spread Douglas enjoyed in the July ARG survey. Back then, Team Douglas was all over the ARG poll, saying it was badly flawed. It's unlikely they will feel that way about this poll.
Of course, the only poll that really matters is the one that takes place on Election Day, Nov. 7. In the meantime, we're all ears on what you think about this ARG stuff.
-- Sam Hemingway