Gov. Peter Shumlin at the H.202 Bill Signing May 26, 2011 (photo: VT Governor's office)

Vermont’s new Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin has become more popular since his close election in 2010 according recent PPP polling.

45% of voters approve of Shumlin to 36% who disapprove. The good news for him is that he’s on narrowly positive ground with independents at 41/34. The bad news is that he has virtually no support from Republicans- only an 11% approval rating- and GOP voters are more unified in their disapproval (73%) of Shumlin than Democrats are in their support for him (71%). That approval rating with his own party is decent but certainly not in the same league with his statewide colleagues.

Even if he’s not setting the world on fire approval wise Shumlin does appear to be a little bit stronger than he was back in November when he defeated Brian Dubie by just a 2 point margin. In a hypothetical rematch Shumlin would now lead Dubie 48-40, thanks largely to a 47-38 advantage with independents.

Earlier this year Shumlin managed to do something historic, enact a law (H.202) that will create a truly progressive universal health care system, modeled on single payer, in the state. While it is impossible to know if that law is responsible for Shumlin’s stronger poll numbers, it is proof that Democrats can pass very progressive health care reform and still maintain the support of independents.

Progressive health care reform is not an inherent political loser, just because federal Democrats horribly destroyed themselves by taking a year to pass an awful corporate-friendly bill.

Regular voters actually like real progressive health care reforms when that is what is offered. Expanding public health insurance programs is popular.  During the health care debate large majorities always supported allowing people to buy into Medicare, the public option, and expanding Medicaid. It is the corporatism people hate.