Monday, November 1, 2010

The Great Miscalculation: Musings Before Election Day

Tomorrow is election day, and considering the negativity of this campaign, I think everyone in Vermont will be glad when it is over.

The Governors Race

Everyone's focus has been on the governor's race, where Shumlin and Dubie are running neck-and-neck. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Shumlin slightly ahead, 50 to 45%, with a 4% margin of error. On the other hand, a recent VPR poll has Dubie ahead by 1%.

Peter Shumlin has been running against Vermont Yankee as much as he has been running against Brian Dubie. On September 18, in Bradford Vermont, Shumlin said: "I am Vermont Yankee's number one enemy." Shumlin accuses Dubie of putting the interests of Entergy Louisiana ahead of the interests of the people of Vermont. And so forth.

The Great Miscalculation

Don't get me wrong. Shumlin may win. It's been too close to call, and it could go either way. Still, Shumlin made a huge miscalculation.

With his endless rhetoric against Vermont Yankee, I believe Shumlin expected that Vermonters would sweep him to victory because of their hatred of the plant. At the beginning of his campaign, he constantly railed against Vermont Yankee, and he was constantly behind Dubie in the polls all summer.

In late September, Shumlin changed his tune. If you watch the later debates, all of a sudden Shumlin is talking about single-payer health care, about a woman's right to choose, about taxes. He may have learned something about what people in Vermont really care about. Employment. Taxes. Women's rights. Health care.

As I pointed out in a post last spring, Vermont opinion on Vermont Yankee fluctuates.
  • In the spring of 2009, more Vermonters wanted to relicense Vermont Yankee than to close it.
  • In the spring of 2010, during the tritium scare, slightly more Vermonters wanted to close VY then to relicense it.
  • Today, the tritium scare is in the past, and running against Vermont Yankee is not the royal road to victory.
Shumlin may win or he may lose. However, with anti-VY as his main platform, he was losing.

Why Did Shumlin Miscalculate?

I think Shumlin miscalculated because he doesn't listen well.
  • Much of the time, he doesn't listen at all: If you watch to him talk or debate, he is always interrupting. He has to get HIS words in there. He is not a person who cares to listen, and he certainly doesn't listen to people who disagree with him.
  • The rest of the time, he believes only his cronies: He made the mistake of saying that Germany got 30% of its electricity from solar (it gets 1%). Several reporters asked him how he could make such a mistake, and he explained it to John Gregg of the Valley News. He thought Germany got 30% because The erroneous number about Germany ... was regularly bandied about the Statehouse in Montpelier. That is what his cronies believed, and he didn't bother to check it.
  • He is out of touch with ordinary people. He hangs out with people who hate Vermont Yankee, and he is unaware of the fluctuating opinion that many Vermont citizens have about the plant.
This is not good leadership. A leader would listen. A leader would have real numbers (not hearsay) about energy at the tip of his fingers. Energy is too important to be a matter of rumors.


I urge my Vermont friends to vote responsibly. It's a tight race, and your vote counts. Make it count for the person you trust.

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