Factoring in the margin of error, new polling shows Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee essentially tied with Evan McMullin, the independent who is challenging him in his race for re-election with Democratic support.
Utah Democrats are supporting McMullin instead of having nominated their own candidate this year. Lee, meanwhile, is one of the Republican Senators who was supportive at least to an extent of the idea of upending the Congressional certification of the presidential election outcome. He focused his interest on attempting to assemble state legislative support for so-called alternate slates of electors from disputed states, a prospect he spoke about with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The new survey, from Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, showed 36 percent of registered voters behind Lee and 34 percent backing McMullin. A full 16 percent indicated they were undecided, but a perhaps surprisingly large portion — 13 percent, so in the double-digits — indicated support for another candidate. (Third-party contenders are also running.)
The margin of error in the polling for the results from registered voters is +/- 3.43 percent. The results are very similar among likely voters surveyed in the new polling, 37 percent of whom indicated support for the incumbent, while 34 percent preferred McMullin, with 16 percent undecided. The margin of error for those numbers is very close to the margin for registered voters. There are a lot of undecided voters left among those identifying themselves as liberal or moderate, as Jason Perry, who serves as director at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, noted. “Mike Lee continues to be in the driver’s seat, but the most interesting aspect of this poll is who the undecided voters are — moderates and liberals. Mike Lee needs some of the moderates and Evan McMullin needs all the moderates and liberals he can convince, but those groups are in a quandary,” he observed.
Compared to previous Utah polling, there are actually more undecided voters in the new numbers, according to Deseret News.
Other polling in the Utah Senate race shows both Lee and McMullin in the lead, depending on the source. Surveys conducted in affiliation with each major campaign showed the corresponding candidate in the lead, including a McMullin campaign poll conducted by Impact Research, which has also done polling for Biden, that put him one percent ahead of Lee. Forecasters generally suspect Lee is on his way to re-election, but fortunes in a single race can quickly change. In Alaska, a House seat Republicans held for decades is all of a sudden a toss-up, some say, after Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola won a special election there following the establishment of a ranked choice voting system under which the candidate who passes 50 percent first wins. Assuming nobody does in the first round, voters — who can select multiple candidates, ranking their picks — see their ballots re-allocated with the last-place finisher removed until somebody nabs the win.