Lifelong Democrats Isaac Hornback and Jim Pound are mad at their president - not their party.
"He's not been a good example with his personal life," 63-year-old Hornback said, shaking his head in disgust. His pal Pound, 65, shrugged his shoulders and responded, "He can't be trusted, even to take the blame." Yet the kibitzing of these two retirees offers Democrats a wisp of solace during the Monica Lewinsky investigation: President Clinton's behavior hasn't dampened their support for the Democratic ticket Nov. 3."Why would it keep me home in November?" Pound asked incredulously. "Clinton's not going to be naked at the voting booth. I'll vote, because I always vote."
Indeed, all across this battleground state, angry adjectives spit from the lips of Democratic voters: Untrustworthy. Silly. Sleazy. "Downright repulsive," one businessman said this week. And almost every one of them promised to vote for Clinton's compatriots in November.
Their sentiments run counter to the arguments of Republican pollsters and consultants, who predict that disenchanted Democrats will stay home Nov. 3 and hand the GOP significant gains in Congress. Pointing to internal surveys, Republican officials also believe their most active voters will turn out in droves to cast symbolic votes against Clinton.
"Our party is trying to end Clinton's term two years early. Their party is trying to save the Democratic Party from the president," GOP consultant Ralph Reed said.
In Utah, a new Deseret News poll shows that a few voters are being swayed by the president's problems - but only a few.
A Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted last week asked citizens if Clinton's problems make them more likely to vote for Democratic candidates in the fall, less likely or it makes no difference.
More than three-quarters - 78 percent - said the president's problems will have no effect on their voting this November. But 18 percent said the scandal makes them less likely to vote for Democrats.
Now, the next obvious question is whether any of those 18 percent would have voted for a Democratic candidate anyway, or are they just hard-core Republicans who wouldn't think of voting for a Democrat.
By cross-tabulating the Clinton question with the poll respondents' political party affiliations shows Jones that 17 percent of those who said they are less likely to vote for a Democrat are political independents. And as every Democratic candidate in a GOP-leaning district knows, those independent voters are critical to their victory.
Utah Democratic chairwoman Meg Holbrook says she knows Utah voters are fair-minded. "We have mainstream (Democratic) candidates; people just like you and me and our neighbors." As that comes through in the fall campaigns, voters will look at the candidates and not at Clinton's problems, she says.
Even Republican leaders in Utah can't say for sure that the president's problems will help their candidates this year. But GOP chairman Rob Bishop says that being discouraged, angry and disappointed in Clinton may keep some Democratic voters from the polls - and that would make for a good Republican year in this very Republican state.
Though the landscape may shift dramatically after prosecutor Kenneth Starr gives Congress an expected report on the Lewinsky affair, there is no evidence that even the most irate Democrats across the country are allowing their feelings to change their voting patterns.
In Utah, Jones found, for example, only 6 percent of the people who said that Clinton's problems will make them less likely to vote for Democratic candidates are themselves Democrats - a very small number.
Nationally, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a poll Thursday that found no sign of erosion in Democratic support. Democrats and Republicans are just as likely to vote as they were in June, the poll found, and nearly two-thirds of Americans continue to say Clinton will not be a factor in their voting.
"Right now, we don't see any less interest in Democratic voters with regard to turnout," said Andrew Kohut, director of the polling group.
Deseret News Poll
Do Clinton's problems make you more likely, less likely or make no difference in your attitude toward voting for a Democratic candidate for the Utah Legislature and local county races this fall?
More Likely 3%
Make No Difference 78%
Less Likely 18%
Don't know 2%
A poll of 407 in Utah County was conducted Aug. 18-20 by Dan Jones & Associates with a margin of error of +/- 5.0 percent. Dan Jones & Associates is an independent polling firm whose clients include other organizations and sometimes political parties and candidates.
Copyright Deseret News, 1998