Poll suggests tight gubernatorial race ahead

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns appear to have different opinions on the progress of our state and country.

A Dan Jones poll for KSL and the Deseret News with a margin of error of 5 percent asked if the United States was on the right track. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said no, 32 percent said yes, and almost 10 percent said they did not know.

When asked if Utah was on the right track, though, 52 percent said yes and 35 percent said no.

Those opinions of our state are a backdrop for a potentially tight race brewing for Utah governor. The poll comes as Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon officially announces his campaign against Gov. Gary Herbert. It shows that if the election were this week, Gov. Herbert would win; but Corroon, who just announced his entry into the race Tuesday, is a strong challenger, according to pollster Dan Jones.

"I've always said, this could be a close race," Jones said.

Forty-eight percent of the 419 people surveyed say they support Gov. Herbert; 35 percent say they support Corroon. Another 18 percent are undecided right now.

Jones says the results show early support for Corroon from Independent voters in the state. Those Independent voters, along with loyal supporters from Salt Lake County, are going to be crucial for Corroon.

"It shows it's a horse race. It shows that if I work hard and get my message out that people will vote for me," Corroon said.

Jones says support for an incumbent like Herbert should be more than 50 percent at this point. However, Herbert has been in office for only a few months.

Gov. Herbert has the high-profile State of the State address and legislative session ahead of him.

Angie Welling, the governor's spokeswoman, said, "The governor's focus right now is on governing the state. It's not on polls and numbers, as good as they might be."

Both the Herbert and Corroon campaigns are barely getting started, but there's a lot of work for both of them to do in a relatively short period of time. Their biggest challenge will be getting the voters' attention as quickly as possible.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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