Poll: Nearly 80 percent of voters want Hatch to retire

Nearly 8 in every 10 Utah voters don't think Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchJudiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (R-Utah) should run for reelection, according to a poll released Thursday. 

The survey, sponsored by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, found that 58 percent of Utahans think the GOP senator should "definitely not" run for an eighth term, while an additional 20 percent think he should "probably not" run. 
 
By comparison, only 20 percent of respondents backed a 2018 run for Hatch — the most senior Republican in the Senate. 
 
The Utah Republican, who is 82, previously pledged to retire if he was reelected in 2012. 
 
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But Hatch — who has wide sway over tax policy as chairman of the Finance Committee — has backed away from his promise and told reporters late last year that he hadn't made up his mind about running for reelection. 
 
Thursday's poll also found Hatch trailing in a potential GOP Senate primary. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) — whose brother, Paul Huntsman, owns the Salt Lake Tribune — would lead Hatch, 62 percent to 21 percent, according to the poll of registered voters. 
 
Huntsman demurred when asked about the seat, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that "we should all be grateful for Senator Hatch's service to our state and country."
 
Utahans are roughly split on Hatch's job performance, with 51 percent saying they approve of him, compared to 47 percent who disapprove, according to the poll. 
 
Dan Jones, whose firm conducted the poll, said the number of voters who oppose Hatch running for reelection is at an all-time high. 

"That's the highest I've ever had in the years that I've done the research," he told the Utah newspaper. 

Jones — who noted he previously worked for the Utah senator's campaigns — added Hatch tends to preform better than polls predict, calling Hatch a "tough one to measure." 

Hatch's office brushed off the poll numbers, arguing he's focused on his job. 

"Senator Hatch is seizing the opportunity of having a Republican administration in office to deliver for the people of Utah," said Hatch's chief of staff, Matt Sandgren.

Utah polling firm Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll, which was conducted between Jan. 9-16 and surveyed 605 registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.98 percent.