Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Democrat Gunn McKay are still running neck and neck in the 1st District congressional race, although Hansen appears to be lengthening his slight lead.
A Deseret News/KSL poll conducted April 19 to 21 by Dan Jones & Associates shows 47 percent of those polled favor Hansen, 43 percent favor McKay, 1 percent favor others and 9 percent are undecided.That lead is not large enough to declare Hansen the undisputed leader, however, because it is within the poll's margin of error.
Figures in the poll are considered accurate within plus or minus 6 percentage points. So extreme cases within that margin of error could have Hansen ahead by as
much as 53 to 38 percent, or McKay ahead 50 to 41 percent.
In other words, the race is still close and is anyone's to win or lose.
But the poll holds more good news for Hansen than McKay. It shows he has lengthened his apparent lead by 2 percentage points since last November when a similar poll showed him leading McKay 45 to 43 percent.
Also, Hansen appears to be shoring up his support among Republicans. In November, the poll showed only 62 percent of district Republicans favored Hansen. That has now grown to 67 percent.
And Hansen is holding a big lead in his home Davis County, where he leads McKay 51 to 37 percent. Also, among those most likely to vote in the district, Hansen leads 49 to 42 percent.
But the poll holds some encouragement for McKay. For example, he is still in a dead heat with Hansen even though 49 percent of those polled say they are Republicans, only 22 percent are Democrats and 22 percent are independents.
McKay holds big leads among Democrats (80 to 15 percent) and independents (51 to 40 percent).
While McKay still leads in his home Weber County, his support there has diminished from a 56-42 percent lead in November to a 49-42 percent lead now. The November poll had also showed McKay ahead in Cache and Box Elder counties by 3 percent, but the new poll shows him trailing there by that same amount.
Not surprisingly, both candidates say they are satisfied with poll results.
Hansen said, "I'm very pleased. This is the third poll you've done. In the first one, we were ahead 44-43, then we were ahead 45-43 and now we're ahead 47-43. We've doubled our lead each time, although the numbers are small. That gradual, slow building of momentum is fine."
But Hansen said he is taking nothing for granted and is already campaigning harder than he did in 1986 when he beat McKay by just 3 percentage points.
McKay said, "I'm not disappointed in the poll given the amount of press that Hansen has had recently. He's been running out press releases like they are going out of style and using his franking privilege at $24,000 a shot to send residents newsletters."
Both McKay and Hansen are hoping for better voter turnout this year.
McKay said, "Republicans are fairly consistent voters. But Democrats come out in greater numbers during presidential election years. I think that'll help me."
But Hansen said, "In 1986, there was no reason for Republicans to turn out. There was no presidential race, no gubernatorial and despite what my good friend Jake Garn says no senatorial race. But this year you have all those, and I predict 1988 will be a banner year."