Two years or four years?

There is some really interesting results contained in the Snelling Center for Government’s poll, released Tuesday, concerning boosting the terms of elected officials from two years to four years.

Now, many people outside of Montpelier’s political bubble see this question – which would require amending the Vermont Constitution – as rather dull.

But for the elected officials serving in these positions, it matters lots. And they have lots of opinions on it too, so much that it seems the state Democratic and Republican parties aren’t taken official positions yet.

But what do average Vermonters think?

Well, the Snelling Center did a poll of 400 Vermonters and broke the results down by political persuasion. Now, once sub-groups are broken out in a poll of this size, the margin of error increases and one could make the argument that some of the results are irrelevant (Vermonters who identified themselves as Progressives in the poll only totaled 12 for example).

About 64 percent of Republicans support boosting the governor’s term to four years, compared with 53 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 54 percent who labeled themselves as "other." But the results switch for Progressives as 58 percent said they opposed the idea.

The numbers are similar, although they seem to drop a bit, when it comes to the State Senate. About 54 percent of Republicans supported boosting state senators’ terms to four years. As for Democrats, 58 percent liked the idea, compared with 51 percent of independents and 52 percent of "others." Progressives again opposed this option, this time by 75 percent.

Similar numbers for the Vermont House too. About 61 percent of Republicans liked it, as did 54 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 50 percent of others. Progressives again did not like four year terms for state representatives, to the tune of 75 percent.

Now, again keep in mind the total number of Vermonters who responded to this poll. Of the 400 polled, Macro International, the company conducting the polling, received 358 responses. Republicans totaled 74 of the people who answered and there were 90 Democrats.

But the big numbers here were the independents and others. A whopping 141 Vermonters called themselves independents and another 41 said they were "other" – putting more than half the people who responded to the poll outside the membership of the state’s three top parties.

Interesting to think about.

-Dan Barlow