In what is turning up to be one of the most competitive statewide contests in recent memory in the traditional GOP stronghold, Republican Sen. Mike Lee is leading independent contender Evan McMullin by a razor-thin margin in the battle for Utah senator.
With Lee leading McMullin 37% to 34% among probable voters and 16% of respondents saying they were unsure, the race is basically unchanged.
According to the most recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll of registered voters, 36% of respondents supported Lee, 34% supported McMullin, and 13% chose a different candidate. According to the survey results, 16% of respondents also said they weren’t sure.
The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.43 percentage points and it surveyed 815 eligible voters between September 3 and September 21.
Although Mike Lee remains in the lead, Perry told the outlet that the poll’s most intriguing finding was the demographic of the undecided voters: moderates and liberals.
According to polling, a segment of moderates who are still undecided about giving Lee a third term in Washington, DC, are crucial to the incumbent’s victory in November and are also crucial to McMullin if he wants to unseat the Republican lawmaker, according to Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.
In April, Utah Democrats endorsed McMullin for the election in November, rejecting a candidate from their own party in the process. Democrats supported McMullin because he fared well in the Beehive State, gaining 22% of the statewide vote and keeping Donald Trump below 50% of the vote in one of the most Republican states in the union. McMullin was a former CIA officer who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016.
While McMullin told NBC News in July that if he were elected to office this fall, he wouldn’t caucus with either major party, Lee overwhelmingly votes in line with other Republican senators.
Additionally, despite the fact that Republican candidates in Utah often have a significant money advantage, McMullin has managed to keep pace with the incumbent. Lee raised $7.9 million and had almost $2.5 million in cash on hand, while McMullin raised over $3.2 million and had almost $1.3 million in cash on hand, according to OpenSecrets.
In the most recent Deseret News/Hinckley survey, which was conducted in July, Lee led McMullin 41%-36%. Given that there has since been an increase in people who are still unsure, the most recent data demonstrate some erosion in support for the senator.
- Sen. Mike Lee of the GOP Slightly Leads Evan McMullin in the Utah Senate Election
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