Huntsman Stretches Ahead of Karras in New Poll

Huntsman Stretches Ahead of Karras in New Poll

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Jon Huntsman Jr. is well ahead of fellow Republican Nolan Karras in a head-to-head matchup for the governor's office, according to a new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll.

Polls conducted by Dan Jones & Associates in May show that Huntsman leads Karras 58 percent to 19 percent. Against Democratic challenger Scott Matheson Jr., Huntsman would have 52 percent support compared with Matheson's 37 percent.

However, if it were a Matheson-Karras final, Matheson leads Karras 49 percent to 34 percent, Jones found.

Both Republican candidates to survive the state Republican convention and advance to the June 22 primary were circumspect about the poll results.

"It's nice to be ahead, better than behind, but there's a long way to go," Huntsman said.

Karras said: "I'm OK with the poll showing what it does. I know I don't have a lot of name identification right now."

While Karras put up some billboards along the Wasatch Front and ran a week's worth of TV spots before the May 8 state GOP convention, he is not as well-known as either Huntsman or Matheson, heirs to two well-known Utah names.

"We've got 40 days" to become better known to Utah voters, said Karras, chairman of the state Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public colleges and universities. "This poll measures name ID. The Huntsmans are well-known, and I'm not concerned about this."

Still, the poll of 923 voters shows Karras has his work cut out for him. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.

Among those who told Jones they are Republicans, Huntsman leads Karras 63-20 percent. The June 22 election is officially a "closed" primary where only registered Republicans can vote. But unaffiliated voters can register as GOP members on election day and mark a ballot.

The same poll also showed that lame-duck Gov. Olene Walker, who did not make the cut in the Republican primary, has an 80 percent approval rating. Only 10 percent of respondents disapproved of her.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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