This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A new poll shows a majority of voters like Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and one-third want him to win a third term in office. It's a significant lead early in the 2015 mayoral contest, though this poll comes with a caveat.
Dan Jones conducted this survey for UtahPolicy.com before state Sen. Jim Dabakis dropped out on Wednesday and endorsed Jackie Biskupski, so it includes a candidate who won't be on the ballot.
Of the 366 registered voters polled, 33 percent picked Becker, 16 percent favored Dabakis, 12 percent were for Biskupski and 9 percent selected City Council Chairman Luke Garrott, who plans to officially kick off his campaign this weekend.
A large group of voters, 29 percent, said they didn't know whom they would support if the election took place today.
They have time to make up their mind. The primary election will take place Aug. 11 and the top two vote-getters will square off Nov. 3. For the first time, the city will conduct a vote-by-mail election.
The poll found that 55 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Becker, while 23 percent viewed him unfavorably and 23 percent either had no opinion or never heard of him.
Biskupski and Garrott were far less known, with 44 percent saying they hadn't heard of Biskupski and 52 percent saying they didn't know Garrott.
"It is really too early for polls to be meaningful," said Garrott. "The results of this poll are going to be way different than the results of the primary ... Ralph has had eight years to get out his message; that incumbent advantage will shrink."
Biskupski, a former state lawmaker who now works for Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, launched a billboard campaign weeks ago in hopes of introducing herself to voters. She said she conducted her own poll last fall and has seen some improvement.
"We are chipping away at [Becker's] support and increasing mine," she said. "With Jim out of the picture, I believe the poll would change in my favor."
Dabakis' mayoral campaign lasted 10 days before he reconsidered. He worried that if he stayed in the race, he and Biskupski would be fighting for the same voters, making it more likely Becker would win another term. Dabakis and Biskupski are prominent figures in Utah's gay community and longtime friends.
Biskupski is hoping Dabakis' supporters will migrate her way, but Becker's campaign said it will make a play to convince them to give the mayor a second look.
Matt Lyon, Becker's campaign strategist, said the poll illustrates the mayor's strong position. He would need to win over at least 17 percent from the undecided camp and Dabakis supporters to top the all-important 50 percent mark.
"It shows that Ralph is well situated, with a double-digit lead over everybody else," he said.
Dabakis said the UtahPolicy poll is similar to one he commissioned and he think the results indicate that Becker is "very, very vulnerable"
"An incumbent should be around 50 percent," Dabakis said. "The fact that he is at 33 percent shows he is real vulnerable right now. People should have made up their minds by now of whether they support Becker or not."