A just-completed poll of GOP state delegates shows U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch is on the cusp winning 60 percent of this Saturday’s state Republican Party Convention, and thus winning his record-setting seventh nomination.
The Dan Jones & Associates poll comes as part of a broad-ranging delegate/voter survey sponsored by the Utah Foundation, a non-partisan public policy think tank, and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
The survey of 443 out of the 4,000 state GOP delegates has a margin of error of 4.43 percent, plus or minus.
That means Hatch’s 60 percent level of support is within the margin of error.
Said Jones: “It will be a very close race” between Hatch and 2nd place U.S. Senate GOP candidate Dan Liljenquist to see whether Hatch automatically advances to the November general election – where he or any other GOP nominee would be the overwhelming favorite – or whether Hatch and Liljenquist face each other in a closed June 26 party primary.
Jones, Utah’s longest-serving pollster and an assistant U. political science professor, said the new GOP delegate survey also shows Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, like Hatch, is close to 60-percenting the convention.
Liljenquist, who resigned his Utah Senate seat from Bountiful last year to concentrate on beating Hatch, gets 21 percent of GOP delegates, with 13 percent of delegates still undecided.
Jones, who has watched party conventions for nearly 50 years in Utah, said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference called to discuss the new surveys that, “I’ve seen delegate votes swing 20 to 30 percent in a convention,” depending on the candidates’ speeches, the mood of the delegates and other day-of factors.
So, said Jones, while Hatch clearly has a chance to win the nomination in convention, it is not a sure thing.
You can read the new foundation report and analysis here.
Other findings of the GOP and Democratic party delegate surveys:
-- Hatch is at 61 percent; Liljenquist is at 21 percent; former state Rep. Chris Herrod is at 4 percent.
(The exact percentages of down-poll candidates are not listed in the report, but shown on a bar chart, so the percentages are estimates by UtahPolicy’s sharp eyes.)
-- Herbert is at 61 percent; Morgan Philpot is just over 12 percent; David Kirkham is just under 10 percent; Ken Sumsion is about 5 percent; and delegates still undecided in the governor’s race are at about 14 percent.
Since all of the non-Herbert delegate votes would ultimately have to go to the second-runner-up – and because Philpot is below 20 percent support, it is more likely that Herbert can get 60 percent or above and win the nomination than it is that Hatch can do so.
-- Mia Love is ahead in the delegate count in the much-contested GOP 4th Congressional District race.
This may be a surprise to rank-and-file Republican voters, said Jones, because former state Rep. Carl Wimmer does much better in public surveys of GOP voters in general.
The Saratoga Springs female mayor is not well-known outside of her small Utah County town, but she is well-known and liked among GOP delegates, said Jones.
Love gets 38 percent of the 1,000 GOP delegate vote in the 4th District, the new poll shows.
If she were to win the nomination, either in the convention or in a GOP primary, and go on to defeat Democratic U.S Rep. Jim Matheson in the general election, Love would be the first African-American Republican congresswomen in U.S. history.
Wimmer gets 25 percent of the delegate count; Stephen Sandstrom gets 18 percent; and Jay Cobb gets 5 percent.
In all of the surveys, if any candidate got less than 1 percent of the delegate vote, Jones didn’t list him or her in the chart.
It’s likely to be a Love/Wimmer GOP primary, said Jones.
About 12 percent of the 4th District delegates were undecided in the race.
-- Political newcomer Chris Stewart is ahead in the newly-redrawn 2nd Congressional District, Jones’ survey found. Stewart has 34 percent delegate support.
Stewart is a brother of Federal Court Judge Ted Stewart, who before going to the bench was a long-time worker in state government and politics and once was a top aide to former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen.
Jones said that the Chris Stewart effort has greatly been helped by “the Hansen campaign organization,” which, apparently, still exists in some form. Hansen last ran in the 2004 governor’s race, and was eliminated in the state convention.
Both Hansen and Stewart are based in Davis County.
The new 2nd District includes Salt Lake City, the southern part of Davis County, then runs into Tooele County and down the west side of the state to Iron and Washington counties.
Second in the delegate poll is former House Speaker Dave Clark, who lives in Washington County.
Clark is favored by 21 percent of the 2nd District GOP delegates, Jones found.
Former NFL lineman Jason Buck has 6 percent support; former U.S. Senate candidate Cherlyn Eagar has 5 percent; Howard Wallack and Bob Fuehr are at 3 percent each; while Chuck Williams and Milton Ray Hanks are both at 1 percent. The remainder of the 11 GOP 2nd District candidates are below 1 percent so are not listed.
A large 24 percent of 2nd District GOP delegates are still undecided.
That is an unusually high number, noted Jones, which tells him that the 2nd District Republican contest will go to a June primary.
The state Democratic Party state convention will also be held Saturday.
Jones polled those delegates as part of the foundation/Hinckley study.
Usually, Democrats don’t have primary elections, preferring to settle their intra-party challenges in the county and state conventions to save campaign money for the minority party nominees.
Both Jones and Hinckley director Kirk Jowers said the lack of Democratic Party primaries actually harms their ultimate candidates because voters don’t get a chance to hear about those Democrats early in the nominating process.
“You get a lot of free media” from television, radio and newspaper stories about Democratic primary candidates, said Jowers.
Again, warning that just about anything can happen in party convention, Jones said it looks from the Democratic delegate polling that Democrats could have primaries in the U.S. Senate and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd district races.
Matheson is the lone Democrat in the 4th District, and so advances to November final election.
The Democratic polling shows:
-- Pete Ashdown leads in the U.S. Senate Democratic race (39 percent) over Scott Howell (31 percent). About 28 percent of the delegates are undecided.
-- Donna McAleer gets 42 percent of the delegate support in the 1st Congressional District; Ryan Combe comes in at about 37 percent; 19 percent are undecided.
-- In the 2nd District, former state Rep. Jay Seegmiller has 43 percent of the delegate support; Dean Collinwood is at 13 percent with Mike Small with 7 percent. About 37 percent of the delegates are undecided.
If Seegmiller picks up most of the “undecideds,” he could well win the nomination at the convention, but it could also go to a primary.
-- Finally, in the 3rd Congressional District (Democrats have little chance of winning in this newly-drawn district), Soren Simonsen has 28 percent of the delegates, Richard Clark has 19 percent of the delegates, with an amazing 51 percent of the delegates still undecided.
Who knows how this race will end up in convention, if the pair split the “undecideds” it will go to a primary.
While UtahPolicy concentrated in this report on the delegate preferences in candidates in both upcoming state conventions, the greater work done by the foundation and Hinckley Institute deals with comparing voter preferences with the delegate preferences on a number of election-year issues.
Those findings will be reported in an upcoming UtahPolicy story and analysis.