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Poll finds Sen. Bennett in trouble with own party


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Sen. Robert Bennett knows his opponents are not just an idle threat right now, and a new study for KSL and the Deseret News has the research to back that up.

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The poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, reveals more than 59.5 percent of 526 Republican delegates surveyed don't think Bennett should be re-elected come November. Just over 21 percent said they would re-elect him, and 19 percent were undecided.

Many say they're looking for change.

"The reason why change is right now in the air is that a lot of Americans are very dissatisfied with Congress right now," says GOP delegate Jose Reyna.

Ryan Jenkins, another GOP delegate, says many are concerned with big government spending. "I think a lot of people are terrified about federal spending and they want their U.S. senator to address that," he says.


A lot of the people are not very enthusiastic about Sen. Bennett, and I think that's going to make a big difference as the undecideds go this time around.

–Ted Heap


So, who do the delegates like?

The poll shows the GOP's first choice would be Utah attorney Mike Lee, who received a 31 percent backing. Bennett was the second choice with 21 percent of delegates supporting him. Tim Bridgewater came third with 17 percent and Cherilyn Eagar was fourth with 10 percent.

But, a second-choice runoff is likely, according to those results.

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The greatest number of delegates, 29 percent, said their second choice would be Bridgewater, followed by Lee with 20 percent, then Eager with 11 percent. Bennett came in a distant fourth, with just under 6 percent backing him.

It appears Bennett's best hope is to make it out of the convention as the underdog in a primary. When it gets down to the wire, it could be determined by undecided votes, in particular for Bennett.

For the senator to make it out of convention, the research shows Bennett would need to gather a whopping 81 percent of the undecided delegates at the convention vote May 8.

That includes people like Ted Heap of Draper.

"A lot of the people are not very enthusiastic about Sen. Bennett, and I think that's going to make a big difference as the undecideds go this time around," he says.

The survey also asked delegates who they would not vote for. Bennett is second on the list, only a point behind Merrill Cook.

Seven Republicans are trying to grab the party's nomination at a state GOP convention. With two weeks left, there is plenty of time for things to shift. The question is, will that happen, or is Bennett in his final year in the U.S. Senate?

The study was also done in a partnership with the Utah Foundation and the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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