With only four days to go before the June 22nd Utah primaries, pollster Dan Jones has finally decided to test the political winds in Utah's two hottest political races. And his data indicates that Democrat Jim Matheson will earn the right to face Republican Morgan Philpot and others in the U.S. House District 2 race, while Tim Bridgewater is the favorite to face Democrat Sam Granato and others in the U.S. Senate race.
From this KSL Channel 5 story and this Deseret News story, we get the Senate numbers, obtained by polling 581 "active" voters between June 12-17:
-- Tim Bridgewater: 42 percent
-- Mike Lee: 33 percent
-- Other: 25 percent
The "other" or undecided vote could prove to be a real wild card, as a poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies on June 8th indicated 39 percent for Lee, 30 percent for Bridgewater, and 31 percent Undecided. Both pollsters are considered reliable, which means it would seem like there's a trend towards Bridgewater. Dan Jones insists that Bridgewater had a wider lead when polling first started on June 12th, but Lee has since gained ground. The race between the two has continued to grow more contentious, with both candidates in attack mode during their June 17th appearance on KSL Newsradio Doug Wright's show.
Neither candidate is attaching much significance to this poll. Recently, Mike Lee picked up the endorsement of Ron Paul, and just today, also picked up the endorsement of 2nd House District Republican challenger Morgan Philpot. On the other hand, Bridgewater has just picked up a more powerful endorsement, that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The business community appears more comfortable with Bridgewater because of his enterpreneurial background.
But also attracting Dan Jones' interest is the 2nd District Democratic race. His poll of 409 "active" voters, conducted June 12-17, shows the following numbers:
-- Jim Matheson: 52 percent
-- Claudia Wright: 33 percent
-- Other: 15 percent
Likewise in this race, neither candidate is attaching much significance to this poll. But considering that at the May 8th convention, Matheson only won by 55-45 percent, it represents an improvement in his position. Matheson believes his vote against Obamacare hurt him initially when it was so close to the state convention, but he said he wouldn't want to repeal the new health care law. In fact, to co-opt Wright and blunt the progressive quest to use her to hijack the nomination, he recently voted against repealing the same health care bill that he voted against in the first place.
On a taping of KSL's Sunday edition with Bruce Lindsay, the differences between Matheson and Wright quickly surfaced. Claudia Wright stated, "I believe that in fact over the past decade, my opponent has moved consistently to the right. That was made very evident on the mass meetings March 23rd when his representatives across the state were heckled and booed."
In response, Jim Matheson shot back, "One thing I've always been proud of in my career in public service is what I've always told people, and that is, I am what I am. I run on the politics and values and an approach that I learned from my mom and dad. I told people, ‘You shouldn't expect to agree with me on every issue, but you should expect that I take a thoughtful and common-sense approach to every issue." The three biggest differences between the two are on health care, immigration, and the BP oil spill.