Tarrant not fazed by poll numbers

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(Host) In the past few months, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Tarrant has spent several million dollars for a series of TV ads.

Have the ads been effective in boosting support for Tarrant around the state?

According to the Cook Report, the non partisan political newsletter, the answer is no.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Jennifer Duffy covers U.S. Senate races for the Cook Report. She says if the Democrats have any hope of winning back the U.S. Senate in November, they must hold on to seats they currently control- like the Vermont seat being vacated by Independent senator Jim Jeffords.

Duffy says her organization has just completed an evaluation of Vermont’s Senate race and it’s concluded that Independent candidate Bernie Sanders enjoys a significant lead over the likely Republican candidate Richard Tarrant.

Duffy says she was surprised to discover that Tarrant’s poll numbers haven’t moved at all since his multi million dollar TV campaign was launched in January.

(Duffy) “As somebody who is new to politics, it would be expected that some degree of that spending would go to boosting his name recognition and at that point he would start to close the gap with Sanders in the polls. That’s how it would traditionally happen in this case, though Tarrant isn’t closing the gap. In fact this race really hasn’t moved at all in months.”

(Kinzel) Duffy says there are several possible explanations for Tarrant’s failure to gain support with voters:

(Duffy) “My sense is that they recognize the name but are either not comfortable with his profile as a candidate or simply aren’t all that comfortable with supporting a Republican for this seat.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says the poll numbers don’t concern him. He says the TV ads have done the job they were intended to do.

(Tarrant) “Our primary goal from January through springtime was to get name recognition and background and that and we did that very successful we’re over 90 % and that our goal for television for the first 5 months.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant believes his support will increase as his campaign develops a more issue oriented approach:

(Tarrant) “People will not, I sound like an old pro, but this is what I’m learning, people will not listen to you if they don’t know who you are and what you’re about and what your background is. And we feel we’ve got that done.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says estimates that he’ll spend between $12 and $15 million of his own money on this race aren’t accurate. Tarrant insists the total will be less than $10 million. This figure is still 5 times larger than any candidate has ever spent to win an election in Vermont.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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