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February 22, 2010

From UVM Baseball to VT Yankee: The Doyle Town Meeting Survey

Doyle It's an annual ritual: A Town Meeting Day survey of voters conducted by State Sen. William Doyle (R-Washington) on some of the hot topics facing the state and the nation.

This year, topping Doyle's 42nd annual survey is the question: "Should Vermont Yankee's license be renewed in 2012?"

Doyle and his fellow senators will vote this Wednesday on whether to let the Public Service Board issue VY a license to extend operations beyond its scheduled closing date of 2012.

Along with the survey, voters in 14 towns will weigh in on VY's future. Last year, 36 Vermont towns passed nonbinding resolutions to shut down VY in 2012 and ensure Entergy fully funds the plant’s decommissioning.

Doyle's survey also asks Vermonters how they feel about the cost of their health insurance, the cost of schools and whether they support bans on texting while driving, as well as using cell phones while driving. He also asks if Vermonters think Pres. Barack Obama is doing a good job.

An interesting question that popped up this year is "Should baseball and women's softball be reinstituted at the University of Vermont."

I wrote about this controversial decision last summer ("Field of Dreams Deferred", August 5, 2009). Since the decision was made to axe these teams, a number of UVM alumni, baseball boosters and current students have unsuccessfully lobbied UVM trustees and officials to reinstate the teams.

Doyle said he decided to throw the question on the survey because he's curious to know how Vermonters feel about the decision, especially since the decision to cut baseball in favor of sports like soccer and lacrosse were largely supported by out-of-state trustees, while trustees who live in Vermont were opposed.

"I don't know if there's a chance that it could be reinstated," said Doyle, "but I think the decision dashed the dreams of a lot of Vermont baseball players who looked forward to playing for their state university."

The surveys are largely distributed and collected by legislators as they visit their home districts during their week-long Town Meeting Day break from the legislature. Doyle, who also teaches political science at Johnson State College, has his students help tabulate the responses.

Here is a complete list of Doyle's survey questions:

1. Should Vermont Yankee's license be renewed in 2012?
2. Should drivers be prohibited from using cell phones while driving?
3. Should drivers be prohibited from texting while driving?
4. Should the legislature enact a law that encourages the drivers of cars and trucks to do less idling?
5. Are you satisfied with your health insurance and cost?
6. Do you believe Vermont is an affordable place in which to live?
7. Are statewide cell service and broadband important to the economic future of Vermont?
8. Are locally-grown food and farmers' markets an important part of Vermont's economic future?
9. Should we reduce the Vermont prison population through the use of alternatives for nonviolent offenders?
10. Do you believe that President Obama is doing a good job?
11. Are you concerned about the cost of your local school district?
12. Do you believe our federal stimulus funds have been well spent?
13. Should baseball and women's softball be reinstituted at the University of Vermont?


You neglected to point out that this survey is very scientific and the results are not to be relied upon to actually devine what most Vermoters think.

Yes, Doyle has created a long serving tradition that a lot of people enjoy ... but if you are going to give this 'survey' ink, it's only reasonable to expect that you tell the whole story -- which is:

-that this survey is filled out by a self-selecting group
-that not all of the ballots get back to Doyle to be tallied. (Many are left in town halls and thrown out.)
-that some people fill out multiple ballots (I've seen individuals fill out dozens and dozens.)

Please be sure to tell the whole story when you write about this survey.


I think One_Vermonter means "NOT very scientific." Actually it is not scientific at all! To make matters worse, the Vermont media plays into the hoax. The best thing that could happen, is for the media to simply ignore the tallied results. Or, better still, the media should investigate how the surveys are tallied? Are they comingled across the state? Do some legislators fill out all the extras before turning them in to Doyle? Do some legisltors just turn the forms into scrap paper? Do some just refuse to participate? And the list could go on and on. Giving any credibility to this survey is journalism at its lowest level.

Thanks Shay for the list of questions. Scientific or no we have re-created his poll online at the channel 17 website:

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