Questions About The UVM 2006 Vermonter Poll
I've seen a number of references made by the Second Vermont Republic leadership to an annual survey that is conducted by the Center for Rural Studies of the University of Vermont.  The first reference that I could find to the poll conducted for 2006 by the CRS is this one posted April 29, 2006 on Rob Williams' blog.  It's a cut and paste of a piece written by Thomas Naylor:
POLL SHOWS VERMONT INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT LEADS THE NATIONNow I would hate to get into an argument with an economics professor over his figures and method of extrapolation but they really do seem to be flawed.  In polling one can't assume an equal interest among differing groups will be a constant.  People who do not register to vote may have no interest, one way or the other, in the matter; people not old enough to vote may not be able to develope an informed opinion; and, so on.  From the figure provided, and from data available from the VT Secretary of State, one should only extrapolate that among active voters (those not under challenge by local Boards of Civil Authority) 31,619 might favor secession.   Moreover, one unconfirmable report suggests that the stated percentage of support for secession may in fact be lower and could put the possible support level in the area of 25,000.  However Naylor's overstating the number of people who'd favor secession isn't really the point that I'm getting at here, although it is consistent with the kind of inflated sense of importance that we've been witness to in SVR's estimation of its relevance in Vermont.
8% of Vermonters Favor Secession
The 2006 Vermonter Poll recently conducted by the Center for Rural Studies of the University of Vermont indicates that the percentage of eligible Vermont voters who favor secession from the United States of America - 8% of those polled - could very well be the highest in the nation.
Vermont’s idiosyncratic nature came through loud and clear in the 2006 Vermonter Poll. In a statewide random sample of over 600 eligible voters, two-thirds of the respondents expressed the view that the U.S. government has become unresponsive to the needs of individual Vermonters. Nearly twenty percent of those sampled believe that it would be useful for the Vermont legislature to commission a study to evaluate the economic impact of Vermont becoming an independent republic as it was between 1777 and 1791.
How many eligible voters in Vermont actually favor secession from the Union? According to the survey more than eight percent of the eligible voters would opt for secession. If one extrapolates from the survey to the population of the entire state of Vermont, there could be as many as 37,000 voters who are favorably inclined towards secession... 
Naylor's piece seems to suggest that there were at least three questions asked that might have had to with (1) a question asking about the respondents view on the U.S. government's responsiveness to the needs of individual Vermonters; (2) a follow-up or second question having to do with the respondents view on the usefulness of a study by the legislature to evaluate the economic impact of a return to republic status; and then finally (3) a direct question about the respondents view on secession.  The wording of questions, their order and the available responses can produce an effect know as "response bias."  Think of it as a type of reverse "push polling."  The goal, rather than to create a negative impression of an issue or candidate, is to move the repondent to thinking positively of the issue prior to eliciting a response on the issue.  Might that have occurred in this case?   That's impossible to say since the questions and their order, as well as the results, were not published by CRS in their report on the 2006 Vermonter Poll. 
According to the National Council On Public Polls there are 20 questions that should be asked about any poll that is conducted.  Number two on that list is:
"2. Who paid for the poll and why was it done?
You must know who paid for the survey, because that tells you – and your audience – who thought these topics are important enough to spend money finding out what people think. "
"Polls are not conducted for the good of the world. They are conducted for a reason – either to gain helpful information or to advance a particular cause."
"Likewise, reporting on a survey by a special-interest group is tricky. For example, an environmental group trumpets a poll saying the American people support strong measures to protect the environment. That may be true, but the poll was conducted for a group with definite views. That may have swayed the question wording, the timing of the poll, the group interviewed and the order of the questions. You should carefully examine the poll to be certain that it accurately reflects public opinion and does not simply push a single viewpoint." 
Also discussed in the NCPP article are the subjects of the specifics of the questions asked and question order.  
Around two weeks ago I began asking the folks at UVM's Center for Rural Studies about the poll. They were unable to provide the questions or answers about the order of questions since the "data" had been provided to a client, and I was then referred to Tom DeSisto.  This week DeSisto got back to me and said:
"... We did collect data in 2006 for the Second Vermont Republic as part of an annual poll we conduct on a variety of Vermont issues."So, now we know.  According to the person responsible for UVM's 2006 Vermonter Poll, the data was collected for SVR.  The poll that SVR has repeatedly referred to without ever once providing specific details as to the questions, question order, results or the fact that they were the "client" in the first place, was their poll all along and not, as they have tried to lead the press and the public to believe, a UVM poll.  UVM's CRS merely collected the data for SVR.
Thomas Naylor and the SVR need to come clean on their involvement in the poll. They need to provide the specifics so that Vermonters can judge the results for themselves and SVR should not continue with this spoon feeding of so-called data that seems to have been designed to puff up their "product."