Here's a little statistic that may keep Vermont Republican Party Chairman Rob Roper awake at night.
According to a just-released poll by the Gallup Co., Democratic leaning Vermonters outnumber Republican leaning Vermonters by 33 percentage points. Gallup says that makes the state the fourth bluest state in the country, behind only Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii. The District of Columbia is even more pro-Democratic, but of course it's not a state.
For a peak at the Gallup findings, click HERE
The 33 percentage point gap, at first glance, is a jaw-dropper. Most polls I've seen over the years have the Ds five or 10 percentage points up on the Rs. in Vermont but both parties were outnumbered in those polls by people who identified themselves as independents.
The biggest bloc of voters here has long been "independents" who are partial to splitting their ticket and voting for people of different political stripes. That group has accounted for something between 40 percent and 45 percent of the voting public in most polls.
Gallup says it dealt with the independent juggernaut by having so-called independent respondents fess up and say which party they leaned more toward, and then added the lean-Ds and lean-Rs to those who were unabashed Ds and Rs.
The corresponding number Gallup came up with does make some sense, considering our Congressional delegation, both houses of the Legislature and four statewide officeholders all find themselves in Democratic hands right now, as they have been for a while. Still, a 33 percentage point tilt toward the Ds is breathtaking.
If the Republicans are thinking of adopting Howard Dean's 50-state strategy as a way of rebuilding their party like Democrats did over the last four years, Vermont would appear to represent as big a challenge as they are going to face.
-- Sam Hemingway