There are still lingering doubts about U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.
Usually, incumbent GOP officeholders in Utah hold relatively significant leads in their re-election campaigns.
But a new poll by Dan Jones & Associates finds that Lee, once considered a Tea Party favorite, gets only 55 percent of the vote compared to his for now lone Democratic challenger, Jonathan Swinton.
Lee has no serious Republican challenger currently in his 2016 re-election.
Some Republican candidates who could have had at least a shot at Lee took hard looks at the race earlier this year – but all decided to pass on Lee’s first re-election effort.
In the summer Swinton – unknown in Utah politics, with no name I.D. and likely a fledgling campaign fundraising effort – announced he would challenge Lee next year.
In the first head-to-head poll match-up, Jones finds Lee with 55 percent support, Swinton at 25 percent support (the basic Democratic number in Utah), 4 percent mentioned someone else and 17 percent didn’t know.
Lee does well with his own Republican Party, 81 percent support him, 3 percent like Swinton, 3 percent mentioned someone else, and 13 percent didn’t know.
Among Utah Democrats, Lee has 9 percent support, Swinton is at 78 percent, 2 percent said someone else and 12 percent didn’t know.
And with Utah political independents, Lee is at only 39 percent support, 34 percent like Swinton (although they likely don’t know him), 6 percent mentioned someone else, and 21 percent didn’t know.
The important number for Lee is he’s above 50 percent in the early poll (55 percent).
Any incumbent always wants to have a majority of the votes starting out, which means any challenger has to take actual votes away from the incumbent – a hard thing to do.
The candidate filing deadline is not until mid-March 2016, so while it would be late to get into a big race like the U.S. Senate, someone with their own money to spend could still decide to enter the race – either a Republican or a Democrat – and with SB54’s petition-gathering-route to the party primary ballot have a chance at winning their party’s nomination.