The results of a Dan Jones opinion poll of 526 Utah Republican delegates conducted April 13-20 was released in piecemeal fashion, first in the Deseret News, and then on KSL Channel 5. KSL gives us the important raw numbers that could presage the outcome at the May 8th state Republican convention. The same poll also queried 548 Democratic delegates and 608 registered voters on two other issues as well to determine how aligned delegates were with voters. Watch KSL news video below:
The poll shows bad news for Bob Bennett. It reveals more than 59.5 percent of 526 Republican delegates surveyed don't think Bennett should be re-elected come November. Just over 21 percent said they would re-elect him, and 19 percent were undecided. But the raw numbers from the KSL photo gallery show exactly where each candidate stands with the delegates.
First Choice for U.S. Senate (primary support)
-- Mike Lee: 31.2 percent
-- Bob Bennett: 21.5 percent
-- Tim Bridgewater: 17.1 percent
-- Cherilyn Eagar: 10.1 percent
-- Other: 4.0 percent
-- Don't Know: 13.7 percent
Second Choice for U.S. Senate (secondary support)
-- Tim Bridgewater: 29.4 percent
-- Mike Lee: 20.5 percent
-- Cherilyn Eagar: 11.3 percent
-- Bob Bennett: 5.9 percent
-- Merrill Cook: 3.3 percent
-- Other: 2.1 percent
-- Don't Know: 24.5 percent
Will Not Vote For (meaning as either a first or second choice)
-- Merrill Cook: 42.4 percent
-- Bob Bennett: 41.1 percent
-- Jeff Friedbaum: 21.7 percent
-- David Chiu: 20.9 percent
-- Cherilyn Eagar: 19.6 percent
-- Leonard Fabiano: 19.6 percent
-- Mike Lee: 8.7 percent
-- Tim Bridgewater: 6.8 percent
Combining these numbers gives us the following picture:
(1). Mike Lee is the most electable candidate, with strong primary support, strong secondary support, and low negatives.
(2). Tim Bridgewater is the second most electable candidate, with reasonable primary support, extremely strong secondary support, and the lowest negative of all. Bridgewater is prospectively positioned to be a compromise candidate to break a deadlock between Mike Lee and Bob Bennett if necessary.
(3). Bob Bennett is the more distant third most electable candidate. But although he has good primary support, he has weak secondary support and stratospherically high negatives. Bennett does have one potential ace in the hole - Mitt Romney will introduce him at the convention.
(4). Cherilyn Eagar, despite being one of the earliest entrants into the race and having run a good campaign, is slowly slipping into also-ran status. But she commands enough support where she can still significantly impact the convention. The question: If she was to bow out early, would she direct her support to Mike Lee or Tim Bridgewater?
Here's the way it will work at the state Republican convention on May 8th. The first round of delegate voting will narrow the field of candidates down to three, assuming no candidate receives 60 percent. A second ballot will take it down to the top two, assuming no candidate receives 60 percent. A delegate vote on a third ballot will most likely be necessary to determine whether a candidate receives 60 percent or more of the votes cast. Any candidate attaining the 60 percent mark will automatically be the party’s nominee, and the candidate goes on to the November election. If no candidate hits the 60 percent threshold, the top two finishers compete in a June 22nd Republican state primary election.
Some interesting possibilities present themselves. If the process becomes prolonged and Mike Lee takes a lead, would Tim Bridgewater decide to bail out and throw his support to Lee? What if both Bridgwater and Cherilyn Eagar decided to throw their support to Lee? The combined support could push Lee over the 60 percent threshold. Or what if Bob Bennett were to suddenly decide to drop out. Would he throw his support to Lee or Bridgewater?
What we can bet is there will end up being a primary, and that the two contenders will come from a list including Mike Lee, Bob Bennett, and Tim Bridgewater (most likely the first two).