'Mirror Towns' Continue To Predict Statewide Vote
11/03/10 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel  Download MP3
(Host) A key factor in Peter Shumlin's narrow win over Brian Dubie could be his performance in a group of towns where there are a large number of independent voters.
VPR's Bob Kinzel takes a look at some of the towns, and how they influenced the outcome of the gubernatorial race.
(Kinzel) They're known as "mirror towns" because in the last 6 elections, they've not only picked the winner in every race for governor, lt. governor and president, they've also closely reflected the actual statewide margin of victory in these contests.
The towns are; Bethel, Bolton, Bristol, Cambridge, Jericho and Randolph.
Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says these towns share an important fact - they're all located outside of traditional Republican and Democratic geographical areas.
As a result, Davis thinks many voters in these communities weigh different factors when deciding who to vote for.
(Davis) "In Burlington, a Democrat can mobilize the core base, in the Northeast Kingdom a Republican can mobilize the core, base but in a town like Randolph which is a mixture of different socioeconomic groups, different candidates win for different offices, it's not a partisan appeal. It's an appeal that's based more on personality, on issues, and on the candidates' personal backgrounds."
(Kinzel) Brian Dubie won all of these towns in a competitive race for Lt. Governor in 2006 - this year he lost them all. Davis thinks independent voters in these communities didn't react well to some of Dubie's TV ads that Davis says went beyond issue differences and attacked Shumlin's character.
(Davis) "If Shumlin's support among independent voters went from roughly 35 percent 3 weeks ago to roughly half on election day a good deal of that shift may be due to independents' reactions against what they saw as the perceived negative tone of many of Dubie's ads."
(Kinzel) A statewide canvassing committee will review the election results early next week at the Secretary of State's office.
For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.