(Host) Besides tax rates and local budgets, town meeting voters this week will also consider a host of statewide issues. Voters will make their opinions known in a questionnaire put together by Washington Republican Senator Bill Doyle. Doyle says the questionnaire has proved to be an accurate bellwether for Vermont politics.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) For more than 30 years, town meeting voters have filled out a survey prepared by Washington County Senator Bill Doyle. The 35th edition asks 13 questions – from the specific to very general.
The survey asks if the environmental permit process should be changed; if the governor should have a four-year term; and if Howard Dean would make a good presidential candidate.
Doyle, who teaches political science, says he usually gets around 15,000 responses.
(Doyle) “There are issues that are before the Legislature, like Act 60, environmental permits, photo on driver’s license, the four-year term, medical malpractice judgements, medical marijuana. These are all issues the Legislature has not solved. If they had already passed a bill, I probably would not ask the question.”
(Dillon) Doyle says it’s helpful for lawmakers to see the results, because it gives them a sense of how folks at home view the issues. And while the poll is considered an unscientific survey, Doyle says the results have been quite accurate.
(Doyle) “The typical poll is like 400 or 500, as you know. And here you have 15,000. Interestingly enough, last year we had, I put on a Jim Douglas and Doug Racine. And Douglas had a two-point lead, which is exactly what Douglas won by. I don’t expect that kind of accuracy, but I’d say it’s within 4-5% of what Vermonters feel, just like any other survey.”
(Dillon) The Town Meeting Day survey will be tabulated over the next several weeks.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.
VPR’s Town Meeting Day coverage in available online.