If the November election were held right now, both Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff would easily be re-elected, according to the results of a new poll.
The statewide survey for the Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV found that 77 percent of Utahns would vote for Huntsman for governor and 58 percent for Shurtleff for attorney general.
The poll of 601 Utahns taken March 17-20 by Dan Jones & Associates has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. But none of the candidates hoping to unseat Huntsman and Shurtleff are anywhere near their level of support.
Only Jean Welch Hill, the Democrat running for attorney general, hit the double-digits, with the backing of 15 percent of Utahns. Huntsman's closest competitors, Democrats Matt Frandsen and Bob Springmeyer, reached only 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Pollster Dan Jones said both incumbents are popular and have high name recognition.
"It's very difficult to defeat an incumbent like that," Jones said.
Of course, the campaign season is just beginning now that the filing deadline has passed. Besides Hill, Shurtleff is being challenged by Libertarian Andrew McCullough. Huntsman, though, has a longer list of opponents.
In addition to Frandsen and Springmeyer, other contenders for the state's top office are Monty "Millionaire" Nafoosi, also a Democrat; Dell "Superdell" Schanze, a Libertarian; and Charles "Chuck" Smith, a Republican.
Jones said only Schanze is likely widely known by voters because of his antics as the former TV pitchman and owner of now defunct Totally Awesome Computers. But he only received the support of 1 percent of Utahns polled, likely because his stands on issues are not known, Jones said.
Springmeyer, a 64-year-old urban planner and longtime Democrat whose candidacy is backed by the state party, is expected to be the governor's chief competition in his race for a second and, Huntsman has insisted, final, term.
"Look for Bob Springmeyer to gain," Jones said. "But Huntsman's already got the name. He's got the money, and he really doesn't have high negatives, so it's going to be very, very difficult."
The governor isn't taking anything for granted, his spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, said."Utahns deserve leaders who are focused on the things that are most important to them," she said. "Obviously, the election is still several months away, so the governor will continue to work hard and do the people's business."