New poll gives Pearce edge over Wilton

The most fiercely contested race of the 2012 elections could come down to party affiliation, according to a newly released poll of Vermont voters.

A survey of 1,220 likely voters conducted in late September by a left-leaning polling firm out of North Carolina aims to handicap the political horse race between incumbent treasurer Beth Pearce and challenger Wendy Wilton.

When voters aren’t supplied with party identification, according to the survey by Public Policy Polling, Wilton and Pearce are in a statistical dead heat. Asked, however, whether they would vote for “Democrat Beth Pearce or Republican Wendy Wilton,” the incumbent gains a clear 46-percent-to-37-percent advantage.

The $4,000 poll, commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal political action committee based in Washington, D.C., is being used not only to tout the electoral benefits of a ‘D,’ but to show broad support generally among Vermonters for one of the party’s defining policies: single-payer health care.

The poll found that 53 percent of Vermonters “approve of Vermont going forward with Green Mountain Care, a single-payer health care system that will guarantee coverage for everyone in the state.”

The survey found that 38 percent disapprove.

For more on the poll, check out tomorrow’s editions of The Times Argus and Rutland Herald