Jim Dabakis 01

A poll commissioned by the Alliance for a Better Utah Education Fund ahead of the first debate in the Salt Lake City Mayor's race shows former State Senator Jim Dabakis has a double-digit lead over his nearest rival. But voters don't know much about the rest of the field.

The poll of 480 likely voters, conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed Dabakis was the top pick for 27% of Salt Lake City voters. The rest of the field was clustered at 10% or less, but all of those results were mostly within the 4.5% margin of error. 34% of respondents said they were not sure.

The poll was initially designed to determine which four candidates would take the stage at the ABU-sponsored mayoral debate on June 26. However, due to the tight cluster of candidates at the bottom of the poll, the group decided to invite all 8 of the candidates to participate.

The filing period for candidates in the race ended last Friday. and the poll was conducted June 10-12. 

Scott Riding, Managing Partner of Utah polling firm Y2 Analytics cautioned not to read too much into polling results this early in the race.

"Early horserace polls show mainly name recognition, which is important to earning votes in a busy primary. But the favorability numbers are key because they point to who could grow in support quickly as the election gains attention. Voters who recognize them like what they see in Escamilla (at a 2.5 favorable/unfavorable ratio), Dabakis (2.4), Ibarra (2.3), Mendenhall (1.9), and Penfold (1.8)," he said.

  • Dabakis had the highest name recognition among voters. 47% said they had a favorable impression of Dabakis, while 20% felt unfavorable about him. 33% had no opinion.
  • 62% of voters did not have an opinion about Sen. Luz Escamilla. 28% said they had a favorable opinion while 11% said they had an unfavorable view.
  • More than 2/3 of voters had no opinion of businessman David Garbett. Only 18% had a positive view of him, while 15% had a negative view.
  • Businessman David Ibarra had a 27% positive rating, while his unfavorable figure was 11%. 61% had no opinion.
  • 65% of voters did not have an opinion about City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall. 23% rated her positively, while 12% felt negatively toward her.
  • City Councilman Stan Penfold was unknown to 69% of respondents. 20% said they had a favorable opinion of Penfold, while 11% felt unfavorable toward him.
  • 82% of those polled said they had no opinion about freelance journalist Richard Goldberger, while 7% had a positive opinion about him and 11% felt negatively.

The top two vote-getters in the August 13 primary election will advance to the November general election.