The Corner

Bennett Goes Bust?

Quite a terrible lede for Sen. Bob Bennett (R., Utah):

Unless Sen. Bob Bennett’s political fortunes change dramatically in the next two weeks, he could become Utah’s first incumbent U.S. senator to lose his party’s nomination in seven decades.

A new Salt Lake Tribune poll of Republican delegates shows Bennett running in third, behind GOP challengers Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater.

Lee logged 37 percent support in the survey, while Bridgewater came in at 20 percent, and Bennett lagged at 16 percent.

The survey of 400 Republican delegates, with a 4.4 percent margin of error, was conducted April 22-25 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. It comes less than two weeks before the May 8 state GOP convention.

“Bennett has almost no hot of getting more votes at the convention than Bridgewater and Lee,” Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon, said Monday.

And in a Republican race where only two can survive, that would spell the end for the three-term senator.

That “two can survive” bit has to do with Utah’s funky primary system, which makes it even harder to bounce incumbents at the state convention, as Duncan’s explains in his look at Bennett’s fading political fortunes:

On March 23, the state held neighborhood caucuses, in which voters picked delegates to attend the May 8 GOP convention in Salt Lake City. There was a surge of grassroots participation: According to the Deseret News, no more than 25 percent (and perhaps only 20 percent) of the 2008 Republican state delegates were reelected in 2010. The convention uses three rounds of voting to shrink the GOP field, with the third ballot (if necessary) pitting the top two candidates against each other. If a candidate garners 60 percent of the vote on any of the three ballots, he automatically becomes the Republican Senate nominee; if not, the two finalists square off in a statewide primary race, culminating in June.

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