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On eve of GOP primary, Politico asks: 'Can Sen. Orrin Hatch beat the tea party?'

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 12:04 p.m. MDT

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist make small talk before participating in the only debate being held before the Utah primary election at KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, June 15, 2012. Expert analysis and polling suggest Sen. Orrin Hatch will defeat challenger Dan Liljenquist in Tuesday's Republican primary.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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Every weekday the political news website Politico holds The Arena, "a daily debate with policymakers and opinion shapers." Monday's topic in this national forum asked respondents, "Can Sen. Orrin Hatch beat the tea party?" — a clear reference to the Utah Republican Party's Tuesday primary pitting Hatch against challenger Dan Liljenquist.

A couple of the responses Politico collected from its commentators:

Jeremy Mayer, professor of public policy at George Mason University: "What we know about the tea party is that they tend to surprise pollsters. Their intensity is difficult to anticipate or gauge using standard voter models. So the key in Utah is turnout. If the overall number is high, Hatch will win. If it is low, we could see another tea party upset. But … Hatch has seen this threat coming for more than a year, he's been campaigning like a man 20 years younger, and aggressively calling in all of his political IOUs."

Former Rep. Philip English, R-Pa: "Orrin Hatch has done an excellent job of co-opting many elements of the new conservative coalition and demonstrating his ability to trumpet a limited government reform message, while offering the potential to support this agenda from the Chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. For that reason … Hatch appears to have connected with the grassroots and is a heavy favorite for another term."

Last week a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll showed Hatch holds a 60-32 lead over Liljenquist; Monday an Associated Press headline declared, "Utah Sen. Hatch seems to have weathered GOP storm."

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