The politicos will cite public opinion polls and endorsements. There will be talk of Hatch’s seniority and power along with Liljenquist’s charity work and recent Outstanding Legislator award.
There will innumerable references to name recognition. Do Utahns turn out a sturdy one-syllable pioneer-sounding name in favor of a name like Liljenquist (which sounds more like a Swedish Olympic skier than a U.S. Senator)?
And, in the end, it will all come down to numbers. Here are the irreverent Cyclops numbers regarding this important statewide race:
2% – These are the clueless who confuse the Hatch name with the “Little Chocolatiers” reality show or with former Viewmont coach Warren Hatch. Don’t worry Orrin, they won’t be voting anyway.
26% – These folks have heard of Sen. Hatch, but spend too much time on Facebook to worry about politics. Their only interest in voting is in voting someone off Survivor (hey, is Orrin related to first Survivor champ Richard Hatch?), and they are far more interested in the Kardashians than the Balanced Budget Amendment. They probably won’t vote unless one of the candidates entices them with an e-certificate for a free iTunes download. They won’t be at a caucus meeting, unless it is held at a Starbucks.
32% – This group represents the core support for Orrin Hatch. To them, Orrin is the reliable Papa Bear. Most have never known another senator; they think Sen. Hatch won his first seat the same time Abraham Lincoln purchased a theater ticket. They may or may not follow politics closely, but they feel comfortable that Orrin will do the right thing; anyone else (except Pres. Thomas Monson) would be an intruder in the senatorial race.
17% – These voters represent the Tea Party. They don’t trust Hatch. They don’t trust any elected officials. They believe Pres. Obama was born on Mars to Muslim astronauts and that CNN anchors meet annually to shred the U.S. Constitution. These Utahns aren’t the brightest bunch, but they are bright enough to drive their way to GOP caucus meetings. They want government to keep its hands out of their business – but they’ll shoot you if you try to decrease their Social Security. They’ll back Liljenquest for the simple reason that he’s not Orrin Hatch.
20% – Ah, the independents, people who go back and forth between political parties and consider “the candidate” rather than the party. They only have power in close elections, but those registered as Republicans for voting purposes will probably split between Hatch and Liljenquist if the race goes to a primary vote. They value Hatch’s seniority, but feel uneasy about anyone being in office for 36 years.
And that leaves us 3% – These are Utah Democrats. They meet monthly in a MINI Cooper in the parking lot of your neighborhood Maverick.
Merry Christmas Orrin and Dan. We’ll be watching with interest.