(Host) The initial results from Washington County senator Bill Doyle’s Town Meeting Day questionnaire are in and they include some surprises.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of this informal survey of how Vermonters feel about a number of issues being considered at the Statehouse.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel)Doyle says more Vermonters filled out the surveys this year because so many people turned out for the Democratic presidential primary. These results are based on about half of the 12,000 surveys he expects to tabulate in the next two weeks.
While Doyle readily admits that the survey isn’t scientific, he says many results from the questionnaire in the past have been quite similar to those of professional polls.
The biggest loser this year is Governor Douglas’s plan to lease the state lottery to a private corporation. Just 6 percent of the surveys support this idea, while 74 percent don’t and 20 percent are undecided.
(Doyle) "Well that’s the lowest figure I’ve ever seen in 40 years of polling, particularly a yes vote with 6, There are a lot of Vermonters out there who don’t like the lottery, don’t like gambling."
(Kinzel) The results also show that 51 percent of the people responding don’t want the state gas tax raised to fix roads and bridges in Vermont while 31 percent support this approach.
(Doyle)"It’s not a good time to raise taxes in a down economy I think that’s the way people see it."
(Kinzel) The issue with the most support this year is a plan to prohibit drivers from using cell phones while operating a car. Seventy percent support the ban, just 22 percent oppose it. Doyle says many people told him that they view this issue as an important safety concern.
(Doyle) "Yes, they do, absolutely. People have commented that they’ve seen accidents, near accidents and in some cases deaths resulting from inattention on the road. You can’t imagine how many comments we’ve got on that. Probably that’s the leader of comments because that’s a very practical issue."
(Kinzel) This year also marks the first time in many years that the Legislature has received higher support than Governor Jim Douglas.
Question: "Do you believe Governor Douglas is doing a good job ? Answer: 42 percent said yes – 38 percent said no and 20 percent were unsure.
(Doyle) "It’s not a ringing endorsement any more than it would be for other governors who have served for many years.”
(Kinzel) The results also show growing support for same-sex marriage in Vermont. Doyle says several years ago, Vermonters were split on this issue. But this year, 54 percent of people responding to the survey support it while 37 percent are opposed.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.