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Poll: Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) in deep trouble with GOP voters

So, why is Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff so confident that Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) is on track to lose at the state GOP convention on May 8? I got an early look at a survey of state GOP delegates conducted by a Utah firm. It's not pretty.

When more than 1,000 delegates were polled on their choices in the Senate race, only 15 percent chose Bennett. When asked for a second choice, only 5 percent picked Bennett. In the first test, he's barely in the top three, which raises the possibility of the three-term senator getting knocked out of the convention in the first round of voting. The frontrunner is Mike Lee, a first-time candidate who gets 35 percent of first-choice votes and 22 percent of second-choice votes.

"Mike Lee is the frontunner," said Chuck Warren, a Utah political consultant whose Silver Bullet firm conducted the poll. "He's the only one I see who can get to 60 percent at the convention."

Why does the 60 percent number matter? Theoretically, Bennett can lose at the convention and win the GOP primary in June. Indeed, that's what former congressman Chris Cannon did in 2006. But if a candidate gets to 60 percent in several rounds of voting, he is the nominee -- there's no primary. The best hope for Bennett might be surviving to the final round and holding Lee to 59 percent in a two-way race.

"Frankly, there's no reason for the guy to be in trouble," said Warren of Bennett. "He's no great moderate. We're just in interesting times. It's just an indication of what's going to happen in November."

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By David Weigel  |  April 20, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Polls  | Tags: Bob Bennett, Chris Cannon, Mark Shurtleff, Primary election, Republican, United States, United States Senate, Utah  
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