While the reelection campaign of Sen. Mike Lee has continued its crusade of criticism against President Joe Biden, rival candidate Evan McMullin has been catching in polling (Image courtesy of While House Facebook).
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Judging by his campaign advertisements, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) seems to think that he’s running against President Joe Biden, not independent candidate Evan McMullin.
While Lee’s campaign staff barely acknowledges that McMullin exists, both his social media ads and his recent actions in the Senate target Biden.
But polling indicates that might no longer be a safe campaign strategy.
In a series of Facebook postings during June and July, Lee blamed Biden and Democrats for inflation caused by their runaway federal spending.
“President Biden promised to use every tool to fix the gas price crisis,” Lee posted in June. “But he’s refused to end or reduce bio-fuel mandates that turn food into fuel, crush small refineries and cost Americans $30 billion.
“High gas prices are on purpose,” he added. “President Biden is making you pay for his radical agenda.”
More recently, Lee criticized the Biden administration for missing a self-imposed July deadline for planning the sale of future oil and gas leases on federal land, without offering any explanation.
In the Senate, Lee demanded passage of his Preventing Runaway Inflation in Consumer Expenditures (PRICE) Act as part of his continuing effort to counter rising inflation.
That legislation would require a three-fifths super-majority vote in the Senate to pass new spending measures when inflation was higher than 3 percent nationally.
Lee has also introduced legislation reaffirming the (Mineral Leasing Act) to limit President Biden’s authority to delay or forego legally required sales of energy leases on federal land.
“Biden and his administration have used court challenges, so-called reviews and other tactics to delay or prevent legally required sales of oil and gas leases on federal land and federally controlled waters,” Lee explained.
“The American people cannot endure President Biden’s clear-as-mud policies any longer … The president absolutely does not have the authority to hold the country’s domestic energy production hostage.”
While Lee’s campaign strategy might play well with die-hard Republicans, recent polling seems to make Lee’s preoccupation with Biden questionable.
According to a recent survey by the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and The Deseret News, about 41 percent of registered Utah voters support Lee, while 36 percent said that they intended to vote for McMullin.
Fourteen percent of registered voters responded that they would have preferred some other candidate and another 8 percent were undecided.
That survey polled 801 registered Utah voters between July 13 and 18. Given its margin of error of 3.46 percent, McMullin could be within striking distance of the incumbent Republican.
McMullin’s background as a former Central Intelligence Agency undercover operative plays well in conservative Utah, particularly among voters who are tired of Lee’s rhetoric.
Lee crushed Republican challengers Becky Edward and Ally Isom in the recent GOP primary, but the Republican senator still carries significant negatives into the November election.
Some 47 percent of Utah voters disapprove of Lee’s performance in office, slightly outweighing the 46 percent who approve of Lee.
McMullin won the tacit support of Utah Democrats who voted in April to withhold their nomination from prospective candidate Kael Weston.
According to recent polling, 63 percent of Democrats plan to vote for McMullin in the November election, plus 41 percent of independents and 28 percent of Republicans.
As of July 18, the Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor reported that their list of active voters included 234,232 Democrats, 61,246 Independents and 877,083 Republicans.
The remainder of Utah’s slightly over 500,000 active voters are affiliated with the Constitution, Libertarian or United Utah parties or are unaffiliated.