The race for Salt Lake City Mayor is essentially a tie between Ralph Becker and Jackie Biskupski heading into the final weeks before the primary election.
A new UtahPolicy.com survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates finds incumbent Mayor Ralph Becker with 27% support, while his chief rival, former legislator Jackie Biskupski with 24%. 36% of voters say they remain undecided. The 3-point gap between Becker and Biskupski is well within the poll's margin of error of +/-4.88%.
Salt Lake City Council Chair Luke Garrott gets 6% support. Businessman Dave Robinson garners 3% while retired engineer George Chapman gets 1%.
The top two vote-getters in the primary election advance to the general election in November.
Biskupski is surging in support from an April survey of the race before the field was settled. Three months ago, she had just 12%. While her backing has doubled since April, Becker has lost 6%. The number of undecided voters has jumped by 7% in the ensuing three months.
Whatever way you slice it; these numbers are clearly not good for an incumbent mayor seeking a third term in office.
Becker's public image has suffered some big bruises recently. He forced out former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank after a sexual harassment case led to a lawsuit against the city. He has been criticized by his opponents for the construction of a Broadway-style theater downtown and the plan to close some area golf courses.
Becker campaign spokesperson Matt Lyon says the high number of voters who are still undecided is not surprising to him.
"It's still the middle of July and candidates haven't started talking about their vision for the future of Salt Lake City," he said. "This just shows we need to keep working hard to win every vote. Once we start talking to people about what Ralph has accomplished and what he plans for the city, I'm confident those undecided voters will start going our way."
Biskupski's campaign hailed the results as a sign her efforts have positive momentum.
"We've worked tirelessly to reach voters and share my message and it's clear our work is paying off, we can feel a real shift in momentum," Biskupski said. "The people of Salt Lake City are ready for a change and they share my vision for the city."
Luke Garrott says even though the poll shows him lagging behind, he's still hopeful.
"With the big money behind Ralph’s and Jackie’s campaigns, the fact that neither was able to break 30 percent and that 40 percent are still undecided shows that voters are still looking for a better candidate to support," he said. "As the only candidate not tied to big money, I am confident that my campaign will continue to gain momentum."
Some other interesting numbers from the survey:
Becker leads Biskupski among male voters 29-24%. 33% are undecided
Female voters slightly favor Becker 26-25%. 39% say they still haven't made a choice.
53% of Republican voters are undecided.
Democrats favor Becker by a 43-33% margin. 17% are undecided.
Biskupski has a slight lead among independent voters (25-23%). 38% remain undecided.
Biskupski appeals more to voters who describe themselves as "moderates." She leads among that group by a 30-16% tally, while 41% are still undecided.
Among Salt Lake City's more liberal voters, Becker has a larger lead. "Somewhat liberal" voters prefer Becker by a 37-25% margin. "Very liberal" residents favor Becker 40-34%.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, conservatives still haven't made up their mind. 56% of those who say they are "very conservative" and 51% of the "somewhat conservative" voters say they are undecided.
Salt Lake City is conducting this year's election mostly by mail. Becker and Biskupski are neck-and-neck with voters who say they are likely to vote in this election, with each getting about a quarter. Just under a third of likely voters are undecided. Residents who are "neutral" about voting favor Becker 24-17% with 43% undecided.
The survey was conducted July 7-21, 2015. 406 registered Salt Lake City voters were contacted by telephone and internet methods.