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Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall is well-positioned to succeed Jackie Biskupski as the next Mayor of Salt Lake City according to a new survey.

The Utah Political Trends poll from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics finds in a head-to-head matchup Mendenhall leads State Senator Luz Escamilla by 13-points (46-33%). 20% said they were still undecided at this point, while 1-percent of respondents said they weren’t voting.

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Y2 then asked those voters who were undecided which way they were leaning. We found 56% of undecided voters would break toward Escamilla, while 44% picked Mendenhall. Escamilla would need a larger percentage of undecided voters to tilt her way on election day to overcome the 13-point gap seen in the head to head matchup.

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Finally, voters were asked how certain they were about their vote come election day. Mendenhall has a clear majority when you add up voters who definitely

  • 31% said they would “definitely” vote for Mendenhall, while just 20% would “definitely” vote for Escamilla.
  • 14% replied they would “probably” vote for Mendenhall. 13% will “probably” vote for Escamilla.
  • 10% of voters said they were leaning toward Mendenhall, while 8% are leaning toward voting for Escamilla.

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All three of those factors suggest Mendenhall has an advantage heading into election day.

Mendenhall has a wide base of support from across the ideological spectrum in the straight head-to-head matchup. While Salt Lake City is primarily a Democratic city, winning the support of the Republican minority could be a key to victory.

  • “Strong” Republicans prefer Mendenhall over Escamilla 45-38%. 14% are undecided
  • Moderate Republicans support Mendenhall over Escamilla 47-35%.
  • Independent voters who lean toward the GOP pick Mendenhall by a 50-23% margin.
  • Mendenhall leads among independent voters 40-29% with 28% undecided.
  • “Strong” Democrats choose Mendenhall 54-32%.
  • The two candidates are essentially tied among monderate Democrats, with Mendenhall getting 39% support and Escamilla at 36%.
  • It’s also close among independent voters who lean Democratic. Those voters narrowly pick Mendenhall 42-36%.

The race has been touted as a matchup between the east and west sides of Salt Lake City. As expected, Escamilla pulls support from the west since that’s the area she represents in the state legislature. But, Mendenhall has a clear advantage on the east side of the city.

  • Council Districts 1 and 2, which sit on the west side of the city, favor Escamilla. 46% of voters in District 1 and 52% of voters in District 2 prefer Escamilla, while Mendenhall gets 34 and 40% support respectively.
  • Council District 3, which includes the area around the University of Utah, is nearly evenly split between the two candidates. 42% of voters there choose Escamilla while 39% are behind Mendenhall.

Mendenhall has a clear advantage in Districts 4-7.

  • She has a 30-point lead in District 4 (52-22%)
  • Unsurprisingly, Mendenhall leads by 33 points (58-25%) in District 5, which she represents on the city council.
  • Mendenhall enjoys a 13 point lead in District 6 and a 20-point lead in District 7.

Escamilla’s LDS faith entered the race earlier this year when former Mayor Rocky Anderson made it an issue in a social media post attacking her. Our polling finds:

  • Very active LDS voters are evenly split between the two women, with 41% of that group saying they prefer Escamilla, while 36% favor Mendenhall. Am=lost a quarter of this group is undecided.
  • Less active Mormons clearly prefer Escamilla by a 50-29% tally.
  • Almost half of inactive LDS Church members (42%) are undecided. 34% of this group say they want Mendenhall, while 20% like Escamilla.

The matchup is the first time in city history that two women are facing off in the mayoral election. Female voters are nearly evenly divided between the two candidates, with 44% preferring Mendenhall and 36% favoring Escamilla. Male voters clearly support Mendenhall 48-30%.

Almost a quarter of voters (24%) said they made up their mind about who to vote for before this summer. 20% decided on who to vote for in September. Almost a third decided how to cast their ballot in October while 25% said they are still deciding who to vote for.

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The Utah Political Trends survey was conducted by Y2 Analytics among 745 registered voters in Salt Lake City from October 16-22, 2019. It has a margin of error +/- 3.6%.