Ted Wilson holds a 19-point lead over Gov. Norm Bangerter in the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll of Utah's governor's race.
If the election were held today, Wilson, the Democratic nominee, would get 50 percent of the vote, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found. Bangerter would get 31 percent and independent candidate Merrill Cook 12 percent of the vote.One percent would vote for someone else, and 7 percent didn't know who they would vote for. Jones surveyed 905 Utahns by telephone July 26-28. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percent. To date, it is the most extensive poll taken on the governor's race.
The latest poll, when compared to Jones' polls taken for the newspaper and TV station over the past several months, shows little movement in the race.
Two months ago, Jones found that Bangerter had crept to a 31 percent favorable level. But a month ago, in another survey, Bangerter dropped to 28 percent.
Bangerter campaign manager David Buhler said he's encouraged that the trend is upward for the governor. But, clearly, Bangerter's campaign would have liked the results of Jones' latest poll to have matched a Bangerter poll taken two weeks ago. In that poll, released to the press, Bangerter closed the gap on Wilson, who dropped to 44 percent.
"We're very pleased with these new numbers," said Rob Jolley, Wilson's campaign manager. "They are consistent with previous Deseret News polls, with polls we've seen other Democratic candidates conduct.
"Frankly, the governor hasn't moved much (in Deseret News polls) in the last three months. That tells us that the people have made up their minds. They want new leadership for Utah. And they want that leadership to be Ted Wilson," Jolley said.
Cook agrees with Jolley's assessment that Utahns want to replace Bangerter. But he thinks that replacement will be himself.
"The governor even called a special session (in July) and gave people some of their money back. But still he can't make any gains in the polls. People will soon realize that this Republican incumbent - in the most Republican state in the nation - can't win re-election. When they do, they'll see me as the only alternative to a Democratic administration. That's when I'll start to move," said Cook.
He added that his own polling, which he admits isn't as extensive as Jones', shows him "approaching 20 percent."
Jones found in his latest poll that among those most likely to vote, Wilson leads Bangerter and Cook, 52-29-12 percent. Among those likely to vote, Wilson leads 50-33-11 percent. Among registered voters, Wilson leads 50-32-11 percent.
Buhler said the Democratic National Convention may have played a role in Wilson's continued strong showing.
If the election for governor were held today and the candidates were Norm Bangerter, Republican; Ted Wilson, Democrat; and Merrill Cook, independent; for whom would you vote?
Bangerter 31 percent
Wilson 50 percent
Cook 12 percent
Other 1 percent
Don't know 7 percent
Sample size: 905; margin of error plus or minus 3.2 percent