A strange thing is happening in Republican politics. There's concern over turning out GOP voters this year.
It's a numbers game involving Gov. Norm Bangerter, who's seeking re-election, his Democratic opponent, Ted Wilson, and other Republican candidates.Putting it frankly, Dave Buhler, Bangerter's campaign manager, said: "We don't want candidates turning out anyone (on election day) who votes for Ted Wilson."
Critical to the equation are the voters who, polls show, favor Wilson for governor but who also say they'll vote for Republican presidential, congressional, and legislative candidates.
In his latest survey for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 31 percent of those who said they're voting for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also are voting for Wilson.
Hatch's campaign manager, Bud Scruggs, and Buhler have reached an agreement. Scruggs - who has purchased an extensive voter canvass from Ogden's NICE Corp. - won't attempt to turn out the Hatch-Wilson voters.
As yet, no such agreement has been reached with Rep. Jim Hansen's campaign, although Hansen says he's a loyal party man, open to suggestions.
But Hansen and GOP legislative candidates - all of whom may have access to the NICE list as well - can't afford to be as generous as Hatch and Scruggs.
Hatch leads his Democratic opponent Brian Moss by 50 points in Jones' latest poll. He doesn't need the Hatch-Wilson vote to win.
Hansen does need the Hansen-Wilson vote. And many GOP House and Senate candidates likely can't afford to give away any votes, either.
Hansen faces another race this year against Democrat Gunn McKay in the 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the western part of the state.
As always, it's a close contest. Hansen leads McKay 48-43 percent in the latest poll. And Jones found that 37 percent of those who said they're planning on voting for Hansen, also plan to vote for Wilson.
Two years ago, Hansen beat McKay by just 5,000 votes. If the final result is that close again, Hansen certainly can't afford to ignore on election day the 37 percent of his support who may vote for Wilson. To shun Hansen-Wilson voters could mean a McKay victory.
Of course, Bangerter could come on strong. He could eat away at Wilson's Republican support and take back the traditional GOP voters. That would solve Hansen's dilemma: risking his own re-election by not turning out all Hansen voters or harming his friend Bangerter's re-election by turning out Hansen-Wilson voters.
But if Bangerter doesn't improve his standing, Hansen will have to make a choice.
Republican candidates for the Utah House and Senate may also have such a choice. The state GOP is considering buying the NICE list, as is Hansen.
By all accounts, the list is an amazing piece of work. NICE is a telemarketing firm, and with its expertise in computer-generated telephoning more than 200,000 Utah households will be contacted. All sorts of data, broken out by congressional and legislative districts, about political philosophies, candidate preference and other demographics will be on the list.
For the first time in years, Republicans will have neighborhood-by-neighborhood view of their strengths and weaknesses. GOP legislative candidates will know who in their districts are for them, who for them and Bangerter, who for them and Wilson. With that kind of information, the Republican candidates will have the same choices to make as Hansen.
Says one GOP leader, who asked his name not be used: "It's too much for the governor to expect us (legislative candidates) not to turn out every one of our voters, even if some of them vote for Wilson. We can't afford it."