If voters went to the polls today, Michael Dukakis would win the popular vote for the presidency, George Bush would win in the electoral college, Orrin Hatch would be elected to the Senate and Ted Wilson would be Utah's new governor, said Dan Jones, president of the largest polling firm in Salt Lake City.
Speaking to the Salt Lake Kiwanis Club Thursday, Jones made his election predictions based on voter-information polls thus far and encouraged members to take pride in the American political system.Jones said more Utahns now support Dukakis than Bush. However, he said, Dukakis is losing his lead nationwide and if the election were held today, Bush would probably be victorious in the electoral college.
Jones commented on Bush's selection of Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., for vice president, saying the selection was made to bring extra-conservative Republicans out of the woodwork and to the polls. He added that the selection of vice president is extremely important because a high number of them later become president.
Bush also predicted that the Democratic Party will retain control of the U.S. House but said the Republicans will most likely continue to dominate Utah. Hatch, R-Utah, will beat Democratic candidate Brian Moss in the race for the Senate and Republican Rep. Jim Hansen will defeat Democratic candidate Gunn McKay in the race for Congress.
However, Jones predicts that Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, will beat Republican candidate Richard Snelgrove.
In the gubernatorial race, Jones said more Utahns support Democratic candidate Ted Wilson than Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter, and only 12 percent support independent candidate Merrill Cook.
"But you can look for a close race. If voters went to the polls today, I think it would be much closer than most Utahns think," Jones said. He added that Cook will probably hurt Bangerter more than Wilson.
However, Jones said voter turnout and participation is much lower than past years.
"I am amazed at the number of people, especially young people, who don't know who the major leaders of the world are or who their representative is. We're lucky if they know the executives in the national government," he said.
"Ours is the largest democracy in the world and we have one of the lowest voter turnouts and our nation is the first to gripe."
Jones said the three tax initiatives on the ballot may help boost voter turnout or "confuse people to the extent that they won't vote."
He said if voters went to the polls today, two of the three tax initiatives would pass. He said more than 50 percent of Utahns support the initiatives to reduce property taxes and rollback cigarette, gasoline, income and sales taxes to 1986 levels. However, a minority supports the initiative to give tax breaks to people who send their children to private schools.
"People don't know who to believe. It will come down to who makes the most sense, and who has the most credibility," Jones said. "I believe the more people learn about the initiatives, the more inclined they will be to vote against them."
Jones encouraged members to involve themselves in the political system and help eliminate trivial disputes and voter apathy.
"There is more fighting between the individual members of the parties than there is between them. The system by which we elect people needs to be scrutinized," Jones said.
"American's have so much to be grateful for, and we are so critical of those who hold office. Why do we send our boys throughout the world to defend it if we only can find fault with it," Jones said.
Jones said only 37 percent of Utahns give the Supreme Court a good/excellent rating, 29 percent rate Congress as good/excellent and 50 believe the presidency is good/excellent.
"But I ask you, would you trade this system with the Soviets, the British, Japan or Germany? All of you say you would fight for it," he said.