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Deseret News/KSL poll: Hatch holds huge lead in U.S. Senate race; Stewart, Bishop, Chaffetz favored in House races

Copyright 2012 Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch is well on his way to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.

The Republican senator has a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Scott Howell, according to a new Deseret News/KSL poll. Dan Jones and Associates found 63 percent of registered voters statewide favor Hatch, while 26 percent favor Howell. Only 6 percent are undecided.

"We feel very good about that," said Hatch campaign spokesman Dave Hansen, adding that the numbers are fun to look at but the ones that count are on Election Day.

Hansen said the results reflect that voters appreciate Hatch's service and believe in his message.

The poll results didn't surprise Howell. He remains upbeat about his campaign.

"We're not giving up. We are going to the very last minute. We're not discouraged by that one little bit," Howell said.

Lack of name recognition and money has hindered Howell's effort to unseat the longtime GOP senator who spent $12 million on his re-election bid. Howell, a former state senator, recently has run more aggressive TV ads, which he says might yield some surprises Tuesday.

Jones polled 870 registered voters statewide Oct. 26-Nov. 1. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Also polled were voters in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd District congressional races, matchups that have been all but lost in the focus on the battle over the state's new 4th District seat in Congress.

In the 2nd District, the most competitive of the races, Republican Chris Stewart is leading Democrat Jay Seegmiller 44 percent to 28 percent, with 22 percent of the voters questioned still undecided.

The 2nd District poll was of 229 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percent.

Both Stewart and Seegmiller said they've had to work hard at being heard this election year.

"I think we've been effective at it," said Stewart, a businessman, pilot and author. "But it is a little bit of an undercurrent compared to the tsunami of the 4th District."

Stewart said voters have started paying attention to the 2nd District race in the past few weeks.

"People are clearly driven by ideas," rather than party affiliation, he said. "It's about debt and spending, and restoring fiscal sanity and getting the economy going."

Seegmiller, an Amtrak railroad conductor whose campaign slogan is "Jay for Jobs," said there continues to be voter confusion about everything from who's running to how the boundaries changed as a result of redistricting based on the 2010 Census.

Some voters don't realize the current 2nd District congressman, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is running in the 4th District. Others don't know the bulk of the 2nd District has shifted from the east to the west side of the state.

Plus, neither candidate is all that well-known. Stewart is making his first run for elected office, while Seegmiller unseated a former Utah House speaker in 2008 but lost his reelection bid.

"The biggest problem we've had is getting people to know anything about either candidate. When people don't know, they fall back on party," Seegmiller said, suggesting that's why nearly a quarter of the poll respondents were undecided.

If voters take the time to research both candidates, Seegmiller said he's confident he'll have a shot at winning.

In the 1st District, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is ahead of his Democratic challenger, Donna McAleer, 72 percent to 15 percent. That poll was of 194 1st District registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 7 percent.

And in the 3rd District, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is also well in front of his Democratic challenger, Salt Lake City Councilman Søren Simonsen, 68 percent to 18 percent. A total of 232 registered voters were surveyed in the 3rd District, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.4 percent.

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