CORRECTION: A chart accompanying an article in Sunday's Deseret Morning News concerning a poll of registered voters' U.S. House favorites in Utah this year should have indicated the margin of error in each of the three races is plus or minus 7.5 percent.
WASHINGTON Voters polled in the 3rd Congressional District have split their support among Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and his Republican challengers, while a quarter just do not know whom they will vote for yet, according to a new Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates.
With the statewide caucus meetings just two days away, incumbents in the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts appear safer than Cannon, especially from within his own party.
Of 200 people polled in the 3rd District March 17 through March 20, 30 percent support Cannon, 19 percent support Republican challenger David Leavitt and 4 percent are for Jason Chaffetz. Democrat Bennion Spencer received support from 12 percent of those polled, while 25 percent said they did not know whom they would support.
Cannon campaign manager Ryan Frandsen said the numbers were "encouraging" because he had more support than the other Republican challengers. Frandsen also noted that the high number of undecided voters shows the average voter is not focused on this congressional race yet, and that there still might be some confusion over the Leavitt name. David Leavitt is the brother of former Gov. Mike Leavitt, now the Health and Human Services secretary in the Bush administration.
Frandsen said that Cannon is focusing on the Republican delegates and working hard to get their support.
"We are in a good position to make a strong case for Congressman Cannon's re-election," Frandsen said.
But his challengers see something different in the numbers.
"It's amazing that a six-term incumbent has less than a third of the voters supporting him," said. "Most people don't support Chris Cannon, and they want to see a change."
Chaffetz said at this point in the process it is about getting the word out to the delegates, so he has not done any districtwide campaigning yet.
"We haven't even elected delegates yet," Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz is working on getting delegate support, while maintaining his pledge of spending less than $100,000 through the convention in May.
David Leavitt said he would not expect to be leading a poll over Cannon at this point in the race but the numbers "demonstrate his high vulnerability" to being unseated.
"We are within striking distance to be able to beat him," Leavitt said. "What excites us is that we are at 19 percent and only have been campaigning for four weeks."
Leavitt said this shows to Republican delegates that if they want to replace Cannon, "their votes ought to go to us."
Meanwhile, in the 1st District, 55 percent of those polled said they supported Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, with 15 percent opting for Democratic challenger Morgan Bowen.In the 2nd District, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, got 60 percent of the voters polled, with Republican opponent Merrill Cook getting the most support of his Republican challengers at 7 percent.