USU Pre-Election Poll

The poll finds that Republicans in statewide elections in Utah are running strong this year; this is particularly true of Mitt Romney and Gary Herbert.

This post is written by students in POLS 6010 at Utah State University, a Political Science graduate research methods class. It represents the findings of the students in the class and not the opinions of Utah State University.

A Political Science graduate research methods course at Utah State University conducted a survey over six days in early October. The respondents polled were asked which candidate they planned to vote for in the upcoming elections: senatorial, gubernatorial, and presidential. The results were drawn from a five-minute telephone survey conducted by USU graduate students who called citizens drawn at random from state voter registration records. The results were weighted for age, party registration, and propensity to vote to yield results for a set of likely voters. The poll has a small sample size and thus should be interpreted with caution, and appropriate heed should be given to the 7.6% margin of error in interpreting the numbers. The poll finds that Republicans in statewide elections in Utah are running strong this year; this is particularly true of Mitt Romney and Gary Herbert.

Presidential Race: Romney 74%, Obama 21%

Mitt Romney polled well, as expected. 74% of respondents favored Mitt Romney over President Obama, who was favored by only 21% of respondents. Aside from Utah’s history of voting for Republican presidents, Romney’s status as the first LDS person to receive a major party’s nomination for the presidency has likely bolstered enthusiasm for his candidacy among Utah voters. Additionally, much of this poll was administered shortly after the first Presidential Debate where Romney’s strong performance built support for his candidacy. Even accounting for the margin of error, Romney is (as expected) the runaway favorite for Utah’s Electoral College votes in the upcoming election.

Senate Race: Hatch 67.3%, Howell 23.7%

The data for the Senatorial race resulted in a majority of Utah voters favoring the Republican incumbent Orrin Hatch. However, the results suggest that Hatch is running weaker than the other Republicans seeking statewide office. The Democratic challenger, Scott Howell, received a substantial 23.7%.

There are several explanations for why Hatch’s poll numbers lag behind those of other Republicans in the state. In the primary election, Hatch’s challenger Dan Liljenquist provided considerable competition and could have weakened Hatch’s favorability among Republicans. Additionally, Hatch’s percentage in this poll is within 5 points of his actual percentages in his last two elections, including the 2000 election where Hatch won 66% of the vote against Scott Howell. While not running as strong as other Republicans in statewide elections, Hatch’s lead is large enough to place him in the lead in this race even when accounting for the margin of error.

Gubernatorial Race: Herbert 76%, Cooke 17.3%

The Gubernatorial data showed that the respondents overwhelmingly favored the Republican incumbent, Gary Herbert. 76% of the respondents favored Herbert over the challenger, Peter Cooke who was favored by 17.3%. Herbert polled exceptionally well (even higher than Mitt Romney). While Herbert’s strength against Cooke may have been expected, Herbert’s running on par with Romney comes as something of a surprise (though the difference between the candidates is well within the poll’s margin of error).

Finally, it is worth noting that Romney’s recent national successes may influence other races within the state, with Utah Republicans benefitting from Romney’s coattails. This effect may be boosting Herbert and, to some extent Hatch, in their reelection efforts

Methodological notes

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted by students at Utah State University as part of a class assignment Oct. 8-13, 2012. The survey was conducted from a random sample of individuals drawn from the state’s voter file. The sample is weighted by factors such as the probability of voting, party registration and age so the sample of respondents will reflect the population of likely voters. The margin of error means that one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is +/- 7.6%. The reported margins of error include the sampling design effects and incorporate the weights to adjust for non-response, but the margin of error due to sampling reported with this poll, as with all polls reported in the media, does not entirely account for other possible sources of error including coverage error and nonresponse.

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About Damon Cann

Damon Cann is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Utah State University.
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1 Response to USU Pre-Election Poll

  1. Damon Cann says:

    The sample size on the survey, inadvertently left out of the post, was 206.

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