Arizona may be the Grand Canyon State. But a new poll shows that margins in all of Utah's congressional races are Grand Canyon wide — making two Republicans and one Democrat happy.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, leads Republican Bill Dew by 62-27 percent; Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, leads Democrat Morgan Bowen by 62-21; and 3rd District Republican nominee Jason Chaffetz leads Democrat Bennion Spencer by 60-18.

That is according to a poll of registered voters conducted Sept. 8-11 by Dan Jones & Associates for the Deseret News and KSL-TV. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 7 points. About 200 people were interviewed in each House district.

Chaffetz, who defeated incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, in the May primary, said, "Wow. It sounds like our two years of door-to-door, grassroots efforts are paying off."

But he added, "We're taking nothing for granted, and we will keep campaigning hard up through November. ... We came from virtually being nowhere (in the polls) a year ago to being in exceptional position now."

Spencer, his opponent, said he believes he is doing better than the poll shows because it came too quickly after a controversy where Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who lived in a World War II Japanese internment camp, criticized Chaffetz for suggesting detaining undocumented immigrants in tent cities.

"Once that settles in, I think things will change," Spencer said. "I think most people in Utah do not feel in their heart that we should round up people and put them in camps. ... I've been interviewed by media in California all week asking me where the outrage is here. With his extreme position on immigration, this campaign is going to be a war."

Spencer also said his campaign has registered thousands of young people who have only cell phones, not land lines, so he thinks polls often miss them.

Matheson, the only Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation, was supported by 95 percent of Democrats polled, plus 72 percent of independents and even 39 percent of Republicans.

"I think what it says really is that most people are tired of partisan bickering. They want someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done, and that's been my politics for eight years," Matheson said. "I will take nothing for granted (with the big margin), and will work hard every day."

Tiffany Gunnerson, communications director for Dew, Matheson's opponent, said that despite the wide margin, "We are excited to see a shift in the numbers already. Our own internal polling has showed us that Jim Matheson's approval rating is slipping as the voters learn more about Matheson's voting record and Bill Dew's position on the issues."

Bishop said about his numbers, "I've spent my life in the district, and am comfortable that I share the same values and goals with my constituents. While the poll is nice, it will not affect my continued efforts to reach out to my constituents."

Bowen, Bishop's challenger, said that despite the wide margin in the poll, "I'm always a hopeful optimist and will keep working like there is no tomorrow."

He added, "I believe nothing is impossible. I believe when people see the difference in our messages — like he supports the dumping of some foreign nuclear waste here — that things will change."


E-mail: lee@desnews.com