Editor's Note: The Salt Lake Tribune's pollster has identified flaws in gathering information for this poll. For the latest information on our efforts to correct the information, and the revised poll numbers, click here for the story.
Republican Mark Crockett will be the next mayor of Salt Lake County if results from a new Salt Lake Tribune poll hold up on Election Day, but a sizable chunk of undecided voters still could sway next week’s outcome.
A 46-year-old businessman from Holladay, Crockett received the support of 48 percent of the 625 likely voters in the county interviewed Monday through Wednesday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. His Democratic opponent, state Sen. Ben McAdams, was backed by 38 percent of respondents while 14 percent remained undecided.
The poll’s 10-point gap surprised both candidates.
“That’s a bit more than where we thought we were,” said Crockett, quickly adding, “it’s certainly very encouraging. … I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being closer to that on Election Day.”
McAdams, by contrast, said the numbers are “certainly inconsistent with other things we’ve seen. … We think the momentum is on our side, that we have a slight lead and feel confident we’re going in the right direction.”
His campaign late Friday released its most recent internal polling numbers (dated Oct. 22) that showed McAdams up 48.5 percent to Crockett’s 44.9 percent among likley voters.
McAdams also topped Crockett in a Deseret News/KSL poll carried out by Dan Jones and Associates and released Friday. Forty-four percent of the registered voters polled favored McAdams, while 41 percent backed Crockett.
On the stump, McAdams, 37, emphasizes that he has the proper temperament to be county mayor, citing endorsements he has received from 13 of the valley’s 17 mayors, most of whom are Republicans.
But that message has not hit home with voters, the Tribune poll indicated, since McAdams has the backing of just 11 percent of Republicans, compared to 76 percent for Crockett.
Among independents, McAdams has a 49 percent to 30 percent advantage over Crockett. Roughly 21 percent of this key swing group told pollsters they are still undecided.
“Our internal polls,” McAdams said, “show me picking up 22 percent of Republicans and that Republicans and independents are crossing over. We’re confident they will continue to come on Election Day. That’s the only poll that matters.”
Said Crockett: “In Salt Lake County, for us to get 30 percent of independents would be great. A lot of the time, people who are undeclareds are not Republicans.”
The poll showed Crockett had strong support among men (51 percent to 34 percent for McAdams) while women voters are fairly evenly divided, with 46 percent for Crockett, 41 percent for McAdams and 13 percent undecided.
Although both candidates belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the poll suggested Crockett is much more popular among Mormon voters, garnering 57 percent of the vote to 25 percent for McAdams.
Those results came even as Utah Democrats stepped up their outreach to Latter-day Saints in hopes of improving their electoral fortunes.
McAdams does better with non-Mormons than Crockett (45 percent to 30 percent of the vote). Once again, the number of undecideds is high at 25 percent.
“I’m not surprised there are so many undecideds because the attention is still with the larger races,” Crockett said. “We’ll be trying to reach out to them in the coming days.”
He said the poll reflects voters’ acceptance of his campaign message that he can keep taxes down while improving human services. “They also like my overall view that it’s a big, complicated county,” Crockett added, “and having someone with business experience to run it would be good.”
For his part, McAdams said he remains confident in his campaign’s “ground game and our outreach to voters, who have responded well to the future I see of fiscally responsible government and collaborative leadership.”
Among the likely voters surveyed, real estate broker Lavar Campbell, of Sandy, said he likes Crockett’s approach of thoroughly reviewing county operations, even with outsiders, “to try to come up with the best solutions to make things work. That’s probably the best approach I’ve ever heard of in government.”
Shauna Call, a stay-at-home mom and preschool teacher from Draper, said she knew little about either candidate but was inclined to vote for Crockett because “I just agree more with the Republican platform.”
Like many others, Marshall Leatherbury, 62, of Cottonwood Heights, is undecided.
“It appears that both men are capable of doing it,” said the retired Union Pacific Railroad manager. “I haven’t made a decision yet because I lean toward the Republican side, but McAdams does have a lot of outside endorsements. That could sway me.”
Julie Neilson, a retired Delta Air Lines flight attendant manager from Holladay, said she is firmly in the McAdams camp.
“I’m more of a liberal person and, living in Utah, it’s been strictly Republican,” she said. “I like more of what McAdams stands for. … He seems like a guy I can trust more. Crockett seems to be fighting for [Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney and sticking to his party.”