Politics

Hatch would face strong challenge from Chaffetz, Matheson in 2012

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch could face some tough competition in 2012 from a Democratic competitor, and also from within his own party, according to a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll released Monday.

Hatch is the senior senator from Utah and has served in the Senate since 1977. As The Daily Caller reported, Tea Party group FreedomWorks has already put a target on his back for 2012. (EXCLUSIVE: FreedomWorks will make Orrin Hatch first 2012 target)

Asked whether it was important to re-elect Hatch because he has seniority in the Senate, or whether he has been in the Senate too long and should be retired, 37 percent said that Utah should ‘definitely elect someone else’ and 22 percent said they should ‘probably elect someone else.’ Only 18 percent said they should ‘definitely re-elect Hatch,’ and 20 percent said they should ‘probably re-elect Hatch.’

In a primary with Hatch’s likely opponent, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, 47 percent of GOP voters eligible to vote in the primary said they would definitely or probably vote for Hatch, and 44 percent said they would definitely or probably vote for Chaffetz.

The poll also looked at how Chaffetz and Hatch would match up against Congressman Jim Matheson, the only Democrat in the Utah delegation and a possible candidate for Hatch’s seat in 2012.

In a general election against Matheson, 47 percent of Utah residents said they would probably or definitely vote for Hatch, and 47 percent said they would probably or definitely vote for Matheson.

If Chaffetz were to unseat Hatch in the primary, he would have a narrower lead over Matheson: 46 percent said they would probably or definitely vote for Chaffetz, and 45 percent said that they would vote for Madison.

The state has not had a Democratic senator since 1976, when Hatch unseated Sen. Frank Moss.

The poll was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from June 13-15, and surveyed 406 Utah residents who are registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.