Associated Press
Public opinion pollster Dan Jones speaks Friday at the University of Utah where a new scholarship has been established in his name.

Pollster Dan E. Jones' passion for democracy was exhibited during a Friday luncheon honoring him as the newest University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics fellow.

Jones was recognized as Utah's innovator of in-depth survey research and was touted as "the best" by political die-hards such as U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who said Jones "has never been wrong."

"He always told me the way it is," Hatch said, calling Jones an asset to the state and "someone who has really made a difference."

Jones admitted to the crowd of some of Utah's biggest names that he had been wrong at least once, miscalling a 1976 race for Utah's governor.

His wit and wisdom about Utah politics, as well as his more than 50 years of civic and political involvement, earned Jones the recognition for contributions that U. President Michael K. Young called "inspirational to the state, to the community and to the new generation of voters."

More than $100,000 was collected in support of the new Dan E. Jones Future Leaders Scholarship, which will be awarded to about 10 student interns each year for their various needs while they complete internships in-state and abroad.

"This allows students a chance to get out into the world and become a part of the action," Jones said. "Democracy survives on participation." He said he loves being a teacher and helping to inspire political involvement in all his students, many of whom attended the luncheon at the Rice Eccles Tower Friday.

Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. said Jones is known for his integrity and reputation, which was "earned the old-fashioned way." Huntsman honored Jones and declared April 4, 2008 as "Dan Jones Day," for the "enormous impact one person has had on the community."

Jones joins previously named fellows of the Hinckley Institute, including Lee Hamilton, Joseph Biden, Mickey Ibarra and others.

The honor, Jones said, was due to the support and encouragement of his wife, state Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay.

The pollster left the crowd with a heartfelt prediction, saying, "democracy will not only survive, it will prevail."