50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 14. Vermont

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

14. Vermont

Capital:  Montpelier

Nickname: The Green Mountain State

Motto: Freedom and Unity

About the State

Vermont was originally home to Native Americans of the Algonquian and Iroquois tribes, before colonists from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York each claimed the area as their own.  In 1777, Vermont was declared an Independent Republic – although for the first six months it was called New Connecticut – and, in 1791, it became the 14th state of the Union, the first that was not one of the original thirteen colonies.  During the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bennington (named for the town in southern Vermont, though the conflict actually occurred across the border in New York) was a crucial victory for the colonists and is considered to be, alongside the success at the Battle of Saratoga, as the turning point of the campaign.

In its first constitution, drafted in 1777, Vermont abolished slavery and the state was at the forefront of the abolitionist movement from the outset.  A 1854 report on slavery by the Vermont Senate questioned how a government could favour the rights of one group over another, which elicited a response from the Georgia General Assembly, as they passed a motion authorising the northern state to be towed out to sea.  Vermont gave Abraham Lincoln his largest margin of victory of any state in the 1860 election and, although it was far from the site of any major skirmishes during the Civil War, it sent over 34,000 men to fight in the Union forces, including the 2nd Vermont Brigade which helped break Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The state also had three military hospitals that were regarded as being the best in the country for the rate of curing injured soldiers.

Vermont is the sixth smallest state by area and its 626,000 residents constitute the second lowest population of any state in the Union.  Its economy is based around agriculture, in particular dairy-farming; manufacturing, the largest for-profit employer is IBM; and health services.  The state is the largest producer of maple syrup in the USA and is the home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Two Presidents were born in Vermont, Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge; while the state capital, Montpelier, is the only one in the country that does not have a McDonalds in it.  Although it has no Major League sports teams, Burlington – the largest city – has the Vermont Lake Monsters – a Single A affiliate of the Oakland A’s – who are named for Champ, the mythical sea creature of Lake Champlain.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 3

2008 Result: Obama 67.8% McCain 30.6%

Latest Poll: Obama +37%

That is not a typo, in the most recent poll, carried out in August by Castleton Polling Institute – President Obama had a 62% to 25% lead over Governor Romney, meaning that it is not a spoiler to call Vermont to go blue on November 6th, even with so many weeks to go before the election.   Support for the Democratic candidate is a relatively new development in Vermont – prior to 1992, the state had gone blue just once, in 1968.   In the last 20 years it has been a stronghold for the party, with Clinton (twice), Gore, Kerry and Obama all achieving success there in their Presidential campaigns.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Vermont this year, the great Bernie Sanders (Independent) is seeking re-election for a second term, having served as the state’s House of Representatives member for 8 terms prior to that.  The only Senator who does not get offended by someone calling him a Socialist, Sanders is a big favourite to beat the Republican candidate, John MacGovern, in November.

Rep. Peter Welch (D) is seeking re-election for his fourth term in the House of Representatives in the at-large district of Vermont and is expected to win by a large margin.  The Democratic Party should make it a clean sweep in the state in the Gubernatorial election, as incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin has a large lead over Randy Brock (R).  Vermont is one of only two states in the USA – along with its neighbour, New Hampshire, that elects its Governor to a two-year term, rather than four.

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