This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The national media are buzzing about the UtahPolicy.com/Exoro poll showing that U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. would beat Sen. Orrin Hatch if Huntsman were to return to Utah and challenge the state's senior senator in 2012. Except, well, that's not the case.
What The Washington Post, the Daily Caller and The Atlantic failed to understand about the poll is that it doesn't matter how Hatch and Huntsman would do in a head-to-head among Utah voters, since the first hurdle for a candidate to get the GOP Senate nomination will be the Utah Republican Convention delegates. Delegates may be voters, too, but they're a more conservative lot than your average Utah voter pool. Assuming in the convention that one of those candidates doesn't get 60 percent of the vote, the choice lands in a Republican primary, where only registered Republicans can vote. Again, Republican voters are more conservative than the average Utah general voter.
Thirdly, the poll pitted Huntsman, Hatch and Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a three-way race, which as fun as that sounds, can't happen unless two of them decided to join other parties and ended up in a general election. The poll is fun but as some news outlets (Politico and Slate) rightly noted, it doesn't have much practical application. Thomas BurrTwitter.com/thomaswburr