Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch hasn't decided whether he will run for a seventh term, but if he does, a new poll has some ominous signs for his ability to survive a Republican primary challenge. Hatch is one of the longest-serving members of the Senate and currently serves as the Senate's president pro tempore. When Hatch last ran for reelection in 2012, he promised that it would be his final campaign, but he has recently walked back that promise, and his current aides say that he hasn't made up his mind on whether he will run again.
A new poll released Thursday by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics indicates that Utah voters believe strongly that Hatch should hang up his spurs and not run again. According to the poll, a resounding 78 percent of registered voters in Utah believe that Hatch should not run again, including a strong majority, 58 percent, who believe he should "definitely not" run again.
Several Utah Republicans have expressed an interest in running for Hatch's seat in 2018, including some who have indicated that they would be willing to challenge Hatch in a primary. Perhaps the most prominent name on the list is former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who remains largely popular in his home state. In fact, according to the Tribune poll, Republican primary voters would prefer Huntsman to Hatch by an impressive 62-21 margin.
Huntsman declined to comment on the results of the poll, except to praise Hatch's service in the Senate, and would be the Republican most likely to stand aside if Hatch does seek another term in the Senate. However, other challengers, including Derek Miller and Boyd Matheson, are considered likely to throw their hats in the ring, even if Hatch does run again.
Either way, the signs are ominous for the 82-year-old who has spent almost half of his life in the Senate.