Most Utahns can't name their state senator or representative but still think a new person, not the incumbent, should be elected next Tuesday, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
However, pollster Dan Jones & Associates also found that most plan to vote for the Republican candidate for Utah House or Senate - ensuring that the majority Republicans will continue to control both bodies.Jones found that only 28 percent of Utahns could name their state senator, 72 percent - almost three-fourths - didn't know their politician's name. Utahns did even worse on their state House representative - only 17 percent could name him or her. Eighty-three percent didn't know that politician's name.
Even though most Utahns don't even know their incumbent legislator, they still don't have a very good opinion of him. Jones found that 49 percent said it is time to give someone new a chance to serve - vote the incumbent out. About a third - 32 percent - said the incumbent should be re-elected and 29 percent didn't know, Jones found.
However, the saving grace for Republicans, who hold healthy majorities in the House and Senate, is that 49 percent also said they plan to vote for the GOP legislative candidate in their district, whether they know the person or not. Only 22 percent - about the same percent as say they're Democrats - said they'll be voting for the Democratic legislative candidate.
In asking whether Utahns want incumbents re-elected or not, Jones found that 3 percent mentioned a third-party candidate - one from the American Party, Libertarian Party or Independent Party.
That 3 percent "other party" is bad news for Merrill Cook and his new Independent Party of Utah. Cook hopes to win either a county or legislative race this year - giving his new party some credibility. But it appears his party's candidates haven't caught on, at least not with a broad range of Utahns.
House Majority Leader Craig Moody, R-Sandy, said Tuesday he doesn't expect much of a change in the House's make-up after next week's election. "I think we'll see us (the Republicans) gaining or losing three seats in the House. Nothing more than that, not a shake-up at all. No way we lose the (majority in the) House."
Republicans outnumber Democrats 48-to-27 in the 75-member House. Democrats need to gain 11 seats to take control of the body - something they haven't held since the early 1970s - and even though all 75 seats are up for election, "that just won't happen," said Moody.
Senators serve four-year terms. Just 15 seats are up in the 29-member Senate this year and there's no way, even the Democrats admit, that Republicans will lose control of that body. There are only seven Democrats in the Senate now. Republicans could lose several seats - all that's really possible - and still hold a comfortable majority.
Do you happen to know the name of your state senator who represents you in the Utah State Legislature?
Yes (name unaided) 28%
Do you happen to know the name of your state representative who represents you in the Utah State Legislature?
Yes (name unaided) 17%
Are you more likely to vote for a Republican or Democrat for state legislator in the House of Representatives?
Don't know 29%
Are you more likely to vote for a Republican or Democrat for state senator in the Utah State Senate?
Don't know 29%
Do you think your incumbent legislators in your district have performed well enough to deserve re-election, or is it time to give new people the chance to do better?
Re-elect incumbent 32%
Give new people chance 49%
Don't know 17%