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SALT LAKE CITY -- The political tide that seems to be favoring Republicans across the nation appears to be sweeping Utah's U.S. Senate race toward a landslide.
The latest Dan Jones & Associates poll for KSL and the Deseret News shows Republican Mike Lee in a commanding position, even if incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett had been on the ballot.
Who would you vote for in Utah's U.S. Senate race?
|Scott Bradley (C)||4%|
|Sam Granato (D)||25%|
|Mike Lee (R)||52%|
Six weeks before Election Day, it seems clear Democrat Sam Granato has failed to catch fire as a candidate. The KSL /Deseret News poll indicates he's losing out to Lee in every county in the state.
When conservative Lee ousted Sen. Bob Bennett at the Republican convention, some commentators said he was too much of an extremist. They claimed the convention delegates did not represent Republicans statewide.
But the KSL/Deseret News poll shows a solid majority ready to vote for Lee. He's beating Granato 52 percent to 25 percent. Scott Bradley of the Constitution Party gets four percent.
Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, says Lee is ahead even in Salt Lake County.
"The poll results show that Mike Lee is on the right of probably mainstream Utah, but he's right there. He's with them. And they don't feel he's extreme," says Jowers.
Randy Shumway of Dan Jones & Associates says Lee is winning support even from a few registered Democrats.
The poll results show that Mike Lee is on the right of probably mainstream Utah, but he's right there. He's with them. And they don't feel he's extreme.
"Mike Lee is getting votes from all of the conservatives, many of the moderates and even some of the self-described liberals," he says.
Shumway says Lee is getting a lot of help from an anti-federal tide among many voters.
"They perceive the federal government as having overreached, as being excessively inefficient," he says. "Therefore, these individuals are saying 'We want to vote for someone who's going to go to Washington, D.C. and give push back'."
Moderate voters nationally swung toward Democrats in 2008 and Republicans this year. Jowers says it reflects anger toward whichever party is in charge. "The middle has not found a home," he says.
Our poll asked voters who they'd vote for if Bennett were running as an Independent. He got 32 percent to Lee's 37 percent, but still trounces Granato almost 2 to 1.
"I believe very strongly if I had emerged from the convention I would have won the Republican primary," says Bennett. "Then been in a very strong position to win the general election."
The only legal way Bennett could have stayed in the race was to mount a difficult write-in campaign.
"The consequences of my running as an Independent, in terms of dividing the party, dividing the state, adding to the bitterness of the current political dialogue, were such that I decided I don't need to hold office that badly," Bennett says.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. It's based on interviews with 600 voters.