Merrill Cook, Kelly Atkinson and Chris Cannon are leading their respective congressional primary races going into Tuesday's election, the latest Deseret News/KSL poll shows.
The survey, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, is of only registered voters in the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts. Jones asked respondents if they planned to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries. He included only those who picked the Democratic in the Atkinson/Ross Anderson matchup, only those who said they'd vote in the Republican primary in either the Cook/Todd Neilson or Cannon/Tom Draschil matchups, depending on whether the respondents live in the 2nd or 3rd congressional districts.Among those who said they planned to vote in the GOP 2nd District primary, Cook holds a 10 percentage point lead over Neil-son.
In the Democratic race in the 2nd District, Atkinson holds a seven-point lead over Anderson.
In the 3rd District's GOP primary, Cannon holds an 18-point lead over Draschil.
But, warns Jones, who has polled Utah races for more than 25 years, the "undecideds" in the races are so large and the turnout Tuesday so iffy, almost anything can happen Election Day.
"People are starting to make up their minds these last 10 days," said Jones. "But I still look for a low voter turnout, between 16 percent and 24 percent. Never can I remember a time when so many candidates (for major office) were unknown. I know the candidates are trying hard to get their messages out, but people just aren't listening at this time of year."
The Democratic race is really up for grabs, the poll shows. Among those who said they plan to vote in the Atkinson/Anderson race, nearly 50 percent were undecided as of Thursday night. "In all my years of polling, I've never seen such a large undecided with just a week to go in a major race," said Jones.
More Republicans had made up their minds - only 20 percent were undecided in the Cook/
Neilson race, 32 percent undecided in the Cannon/Draschil contest.
But those are still rather big numbers with less than a week to go. Undoubtedly, much of that indecision is the June primary date itself. This is only the second primary election held in June in Utah in many years. The old primary election date was in September. In the June 1994 primary election, just over 11 percent of registered voters participated. Jones said many people interviewed didn't even know there was a primary election Tuesday and so hadn't made up their minds who they would vote for.
Jones asked those interviewed how likely they were to vote Tuesday. Among those who said they were "very likely" to vote, all the races tightened to well within the margins of polling error.
Among those "very likely" to vote in the GOP 2nd District race, Neilson sneaks ahead of Cook, 42 percent to 41 percent.
In the 2nd District Democratic race, the "very likely" to vote is tied, 28-28, between Atkinson and Anderson. But still 45 percent of those who said they're very likely to pick the Democratic ballot Tuesday were undecided.
Draschil's hope comes in the "very likely" to vote column among Republicans in the 3rd District. Jones found Cannon's lead shrinks to 37-35 percent over Draschil in that category.
Jones also matched the Republican 2nd District candidates against the Democratic alternatives. In four way head-to-head matchups, Cook and Neilson were each preferred over Atkinson and Anderson. However, Cook ran a little stronger against both Atkinson and Anderson than did Neilson.
In the 3rd District, Jones matched both Cannon and Draschil against incumbent Democratic Rep. Bill Orton, who has no primary Tuesday. Orton comes out on top both against Cannon or Draschil, but Cannon runs stronger against Orton than does Draschil, Jones found.
Deseret News/KSL poll
If the Democratic primary election in the 2nd Congressional District were held today and the candidates were Ross Anderson and Kelly Atkinson, for whom would you vote?
Ross Anderson 23%
Kelly Atkinson 30%
Don't know 47%
If the Republican primary election in the 2nd Congressional District were held today and the candidates were Merrill Cook and Todd Neilson, for whom would you vote?
Merrill Cook 45%
Todd Neilson 35%
Don't know 20%
If the Republican primary election in the 3rd Congressional District were held today and the candidates were Chris Cannon and Tom Draschil, for whom would you vote?
Chris Cannon 43%
Tom Draschil 25%
Don't know 32%
Poll conducted June 17-20, 1996 by Dan Jones & Associates. In the 2nd Congressional District he interviewed 130 registered voters who said they planned to vote in the Democratic primary, margin of error in the Democratic race plus or minus 8.0 percent. In the 2nd District 193 registered voters interviewed said they planned to vote in the Republican primary, margin of error plus or minus 7.0 percent. In the 3rd District 228 registered voters interviewed said they planned to vote in the Republican primary, margin of error plus or minus 6.5 percent. Copyright 1996 Deseret News. Dan Jones & Associates is an independent pollster who sometimes polls for private businesses and political candidates. In this election year Jones is polling for candidates Todd Neilson and Chris Cannon. The Deseret News/KSL poll was conducted separately by Jones from any political candidate clients he may have.