Rep. Jim Hansen has widened his lead over Democratic challenger Gunn McKay in Utah's 1st Congressional District, while challengers have closed on incumbent Reps. Wayne Owens and Howard Nielson in their congressional races, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.

Two months ago pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that Hansen led McKay by 5 points. However, in a poll taken the end of July Hansen's lead had grown to 10 percentage points.Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 51 percent of the 300 1st District residents polled said Hansen, 41 percent said McKay and 8 percent didn't know. Two months ago Hansen led McKay 48-43 percent. Jones polled 300 people in each of the three districts, the poll has an error margin of plus or minus 5.5 percent.

Democrat Owens and Republican Nielson still hold healthy leads in their races. But their opponents are closing.

Jones found that Owens leads Republican Richard Snelgrove by 19 points in the 2nd District, which makes up most of Salt Lake County. If the election were today, 53 percent said they'd vote for Owens, 34 percent said they'd vote for Snelgrove, 2 percent said they'd vote for Libertarian Michael Lee and 12 percent didn't know.

Two months ago Jones found that Owens led Snelgrove by 30 points.

In the 3rd District, Democrats Bob Stringham and Craig Oliver face each other in a Sept. 13 primary. The winner then faces Nielson. Jones found that in the Democratic primary, 21 percent favor Stringham, 18 percent want Oliver, 2 percent want someone else and 59 percent don't know.

In head-to-head matchups against Nielson both Democrats do better than they did two months ago, but both still trail badly. Jones found in his latest poll 48 percent favor Nielson, 26 percent favor Stringham, 6 percent want American Party candidate E. Dean Christensen, 1 percent want someone else and 20 percent don't know.

Against Oliver, Nielson leads 52-20 percent. Five percent said they'd vote for Christensen, 1 percent said they'd vote for someone else and 22 percent didn't know. Thus, Nielson leads Stringham by 22 percentage points and Oliver by 32 points.

McKay spokesman Dave Dixon said he knows Hansen doesn't hold a 10 point lead over McKay. "On any given day, depending on what is happening in the campaign, there is a 3-4 percent difference in the race our internal polling shows," said Dixon. He believes Jones' 10 point difference is within the range of statistical error and that McKay hasn't fallen behind since the last poll.

"When we get out message out of Gunn's future for the district and the failed record of Hansen and (Gov. Norm) Bangerter, the voters of this district will send Gunn back to Congress," Dixon said.

Peter Jenks, Hansen's campaign manager, said, "We're very pleased with this poll. It tells us that Gunn's negative campaign isn't paying off and that the voters of this district are basically pleased with Jim." Jenks said he believes the race is a 10-11 point race, "and that is a good lead in the 1st District, especially going into September."

If the 1st Congressional District election were held today and the candidates were Republican Jim Hansen and Democrat Gunn McKay for whom would you vote?

Hansen 51 percent

McKay 41 percent

Don't know 8 percent

If the election in the 2nd Congressional District were held today and the candidates were Wayne Owens, Democrat; Richard Snelgrove, Republican; and Michael Lee, Libertarian; for whom would you vote?

Stringham 21 percent

Oliver 18 percent

Other 2 percent

Don't know 59 percent

If the election were held today in the 3rd Congressional District and the candidates were Howard Nielson, Republican; Bob Stringham, Democrat; and E. Dean Christensen, American Party; for whom would you vote?

Nielson 52 percent

Oliver 20 percent

Christensen 5 percent

Other 1 percent

Don't know 22 percent

Sample size: 300; margin of error plus or minus 5.5 percent