In low turnout primary, support lags for Shumlin, Milne

MONTPELIER -- The voter turnout for the 2014 primary election was one of the lowest, if not the lowest turnout in history, according to Eric Davis, a retired political science professor from Middlebury College.

Just under 40,000 Vermonters went to the polls, or about 8 percent of registered voters.

Davis says of that total, 40 percent chose the Republican ballot; 60 percent voted Democratic. Typically 70 percent of the primary voters are Democratic. The fact that a larger than usual percentage of Republicans turned out is a sign that GOP voters were motivated.

There were three write-in campaigns for candidates. Two of the candidates hoped to get support from another party. Progressive Dean Corren, the candidate for lieutenant governor, did much better than expected, Davis said. It's possible that Corren got 5,000 to 6,000 write-ins (details won't be available until Tuesday). The Burlington Progressive is now very well positioned to get a formal endorsement from the Democratic Party, and support from members of the party.

Dan Feliciano, a Libertarian gubernatorial write-in candidate who was seeking votes on the Republican ballot, started his write-in campaign two weeks ago and managed to carve away 15 percent of the vote from Scott Milne, the GOP-endorsed candidate. Emily Peyton, an independent, and Steve Berry, neither of whom actively campaigned, got 5 percent to 6 percent of the vote.

Davis predicts that Feliciano could get 10 percent of the Republican vote in the general election, and Milne will be hard-pressed to get 30 percent.

Shumlin did not "do as well as an incumbent should have," Davis said. H. Brooke Paige managed to get 10 percent of the vote even though he is an unknown candidate with "interesting views."

If former Republican state senator Randy Brock had decided to run against Shumlin, Davis says we could have seen a competitive gubernatorial race this election year.

"(Randy) is an experienced candidate who doesn't need a learning curve," Davis said. "He'd have the whole party behind him - the traditionalists and the ideologues."


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