On December 1st, 2009, the Deseret News reported that Utah pollster Dan Jones took the political pulse of 408 registered Utah voters from November 19-23, and found that although U.S. Senator Bob Bennett is far ahead of his Republican challengers, only 27 percent of all respondents think he should be re-elected. This means people don't like Bob Bennett, but aren't quite sure who his replacement should be yet. Salt Lake Crawler also weighs in.
In response to the question about Bennett's re-election:
-- Re-elect Bennett: 27 percent
-- Give someone new a chance: 58 percent
-- Depends on who runs against Bennett: 7 percent
-- Don't know: 8 percent
And in response to the question about specific candidates:
-- Bob Bennett (R): 31 percent
-- Sam Granato (D): 14 percent
-- Cherilyn Eagar (R): 5 percent
-- Tim Bridgewater (R): 4 percent
-- Fred Lampropouolos (R): 4 percent
-- Mike Lee (R): 3 percent
-- James Williams (R): 1 percent
Lampropoulos has since dropped out, and Mike Lee has not jumped in yet, although he says he's interested.
The dichotomy was noticed by Dan Jones, who said the last time he saw such weak numbers for an incumbent was when former Rep. Merrill Cook sought re-election in 2000 amid scandal over his erratic behavior. Cook lost a GOP primary that year to Derek Smith, who in turn lost the general election to Democrat Jim Matheson. But in this case, there is no personal scandal involved; there is simply an anti-incumbent backlash building. Although conservatives are leading the way in challenging Bennett, the poll shows that similar percentages of conservatives, moderates and liberals all would like to see Bennett dumped next year.
But Bennett's toughest test will be at the state convention in May. It is possible that he will not get the 60 percent needed to avoid a primary fight, but most experts think he could win a primary election afterward. However, The Hill prognosticates that since a solid majority of those surveyed in the poll are Republicans or conservative-leaning voters, extrapolating those numbers among that segment of the population would indicate that Bennett’s reelect is well below 50 percent among primary voters.