SALT LAKE CITY — Republican candidate Mike Lee continues to outpace Democratic challenger Sam Granato in the race for U.S. Senate, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll reveals.
Fifty-three percent of those polled said they would vote for Lee, compared to 31 percent for Granato. The survey of 600 active voters was conducted Oct. 11-14 by Dan Jones & Associates. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
Boyd Matheson, communication director for Lee's campaign, said Lee was pleased with the continued outpouring of support from Utahns across the state.
"While this poll demonstrates the strong base of support Mike has established over the course of the campaign, we have never been focused on poll numbers. Our focus from day one has been to get Mike's message of limited government to the people of Utah," Matheson said.
"This poll, like so many others, confirms that his message is ringing true and that the overwhelming majority of Utahns agree that it is time to reduce the size and cost of the federal government," he said.
The Granato campaign had a vastly different interpretation of the poll results.
"These poll numbers show exactly what we've known all along. When voters hear Mike Lee's extreme, tea party rhetoric, they don't like it. He has consistently been going down in the polls for the last five months," Granato's campaign manager, Marla Kennedy, said.
She said in June, Lee was polling at 58 percent after spending more than $750,000 to win his GOP primary battle against Tim Bridgewater. "In August, he slipped to 54 percent, and now he's down to 53 percent. As a Republican in Utah, and after spending almost $1 million, he should be polling in the high 60s," Kennedy said.
With the election just weeks away, 11 percent of the Utahns polled were undecided whom to vote for in the Senate race. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, lost his bid for a fourth term in the GOP state convention in May.
But neither Lee nor Bridgewater had enough delegate support to avoid what turned out to be a costly and divisive primary. Both candidates portrayed themselves as conservatives, but it was Lee's focus on defending the Constitution that attracted the most support from national groups aligned with the tea party movement.
Look for profiles of Senate candidates Mike Lee and Sam Granato in Monday's and Tuesday's Deseret News, respectively.