Three-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch holds a healthy lead over Democratic challenger Pat Shea, the latest Deseret News/
KSL poll shows, as the doldrums of summer end and candidates prepare for the traditional Labor Day campaign opening.In a survey conducted a week ago, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that if the election were held today, 59 percent of Utahns said they would definitely or probably vote for Hatch, 22 percent said Shea, minor party candidates picked up a couple of percentage points, while 14 percent didn't know whom they'd vote for.
A May 31-June 1 poll by Jones showed Hatch favored at that time over Shea 62-26 percent.
Hatch certainly is strong entering the campaign season. But Shea is an able campaigner, and while he's raised only $188,000 so far (his July 15 financial report shows), Shea says he'll double that amount in summer fund raising. Hatch, on the other hand, has already spent $1 million on his campaign and has about $1 million in cash on hand.
Shea believes he has a real weapon in his campaign - Hatch's 18 years in the Senate. The problem, Shea said recently, is that Utahns haven't focused on the campaign - and part of that is because the media haven't focused on it - and accordingly Utahns don't know or haven't remembered Hatch's tenure.
In a poll conducted by Shea's campaign several months ago, after those questioned were made aware of Hatch's tenure, the race tightened considerably, Shea says.
In his current poll, Jones found that Shea has name identification problems and lacks support among independents and even his own Democrats.
While 92 percent of Republicans support Hatch, only 61 percent of Democrats support Shea. Hatch is supported by 17 percent of Democrats; Shea gets only 1 percent of Republicans.
Shea gets only 21 percent support among Utahns who said they are political independents (don't belong to any party), while Hatch gets 49 percent support among independents.
For a Democrat to win a statewide race in Utah - a very Republican state - he must carry his own party solidly, get by far most of the independents and pick up a share of the Republicans as well.
Deseret News/KSL poll
If the election were held today for U.S. Senate, for whom would you vote?
ORRIN HATCH (R) 59%
PAT SHEA (D) 22%
CRAIG OLIVER (I) 1%
GARY VAN HORN (AM) 1%
NELSON GONZALEZ (SOC) 1%
LAWRENCE TOPHAM (AM) 0%
DON'T KNOW 14%
Poll conducted July 26-28, 1994. Margin of error +/-4% on interviews of 614 adult registered voters. Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates. Copyright 1994 Deseret News. Dan Jones & Associates, an independent organization founded in 1980, polls for the Deseret News and KSL. Its clients include other organizations and some political candidates.