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Ivory grabs the lead in S.L. County

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Four weeks after Ellis Ivory entered the Salt Lake County mayoral race as a write-in — four weeks of legal and ballot confusion and, oh yeah, campaigning — the newly minted Republican candidate is leading Democrat Peter Corroon in a new Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll.

The campaign is still, however, very much a horse race.

The poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates this past week, shows Ivory in the lead with 43 percent, compared to Corroon's 37 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

"It's fair to say it's too close to call," University of Utah political science professor Tim Chambless said. "People's minds are still in turmoil."

Jones pointed out that the situation was in flux last week when the poll was being conducted. Ivory entered the race as a write-in candidate Oct. 5, became the GOP candidate on the ballot Wednesday, was ordered off the ballot by a 3rd District Court judge later that day, then put back on Thursday by the Utah Supreme Court.

"We got a full night (of polling) in after Ellis Ivory got on the ballot" for good, Jones said. "That made a difference. He did not do nearly as well when they were talking about him as a write-in."

Given the extremely unusual campaign, the numbers may well continue to change right up to Election Day.

"This election is unprecedented, almost unimaginable," Chambless said Friday. "A fiction writer couldn't come up with this stuff. Anything I say to you will probably be wrong because who knows what's going to happen over the next four days."

"I said at the beginning that it's going to be close, and it's going to be close at the end," Corroon said.

Both candidates have made media buys for the weekend, and both will be actively campaigning right up to Tuesday.

Ultimately the election's outcome will probably depend less on who the majority of voters support than, as Chambless put it, "the T word: turnout.

"It's the last weekend and all you've got is 10 percent undecided," Jones said. "Peter, he needs to get the Democrats out, and he's got to get some independents too. He's got to get the (Salt Lake) city people out."

Salt Lake City is the most Democratic area of the county.

The mayor's race may be close, but the most-watched County Council race is even closer, truly neck and neck. The poll shows GOP at-large Councilman Steve Harmsen at 39 percent support with Democrat Jenny Wilson at 36 percent, well within the margin of error.

"She has campaigned very hard, and her name has become better known," Jones said of Wilson. "She has got the Democrats to come home and she has the women, but Harmsen is well ahead with the men."

The outcome of that race will also depend heavily on voter turnout; Jones noted that Harmsen led Wilson among poll respondents who identified themselves as "most likely to vote."

Despite spending more money by far than any other council candidate ($126,000 as of last Tuesday), previous polls indicated that Wilson hadn't been able to able to close the gap against incumbent Harmsen.

Now, however, when it really counts, she appears to have finally done it.

The proposed reauthorization of the county's Zoo, Arts & Parks tax continues to have strong support among residents. The poll showed 72 percent in favor, with 22 percent against — numbers that have been steady for the past several months.

E-mail: aedwards@desnews.com