It appears Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is cruising toward another term in office.
The latest UtahPolicy.com survey from Dan Jones & Associates finds Herbert with a 41-point lead over Democratic nominee Mike Weinholtz.
If the election were held today, Herbert would get 64% of the vote while Weinholtz would trail far behind at just 23%. Libertarian nominee Brian Kamerath gets 4% while Independent American Superdell Schanze and independent candidate L.S. Brown each get 1%. 7% of Utahns are undecided.
Many Democrats were hoping that Donald Trump’s presence at the top of the ballot for Republicans would be a drag for other GOP candidates, giving them a shot at pulling an upset in some races in November. Those dreams appear to be dashed as Herbert is in prime position for re-election.
Herbert’s campaign manager, Marty Carpenter, said the poll was welcome news.
“The poll shows most Utahns overwhelmingly recognize the importance of the steady hand of leadership Gov. Herbert has provided for our state,” said Carpenter in an email reply to UtahPolicy.com. “Utah’s economy is leading the nation, and we are investing in the education of our students at an unprecedented level, and Utahns want to see that continue.”
Although they were hoping for better news, Weinholtz’s campaign was not surprised by the numbers.
“As an outsider running against an incumbent career politician, this is about where we thought we’d be,” said Michael Weinholtz in an email. “Everywhere I go in Utah, visiting with people of all political parties, I’m hearing that they’re misrepresented and voiceless under our current government. As we move closer to the election, and voters become more engaged, we know the numbers will shift dramatically.”
A dramatic shift in the numbers is an understatement. Weinholtz will have to pick up more than 20 points in the next three months to catch Herbert and pull off the upset. That’s a tall order for anyone.
Herbert crushed his GOP primary opponent, Jonathan Johnson by 44-points before moving on to the general election contest with Weinholtz, who ousted Vaughn Cook at the Democratic convention.
As history has shown, the winning electoral equation for Democrats in big races in Utah is to capture all of the Democratic votes, win a sizeable majority of independent voters and pick off about 15-20% of Republicans. That’s the path followed successfully by Jim Matheson and Ben McAdams.
Weinholtz isn’t hitting any of those marks.
Among Democrats, Weinholtz gets just 69% support, while 22% say they will vote for Herbert.
Independents are breaking for Herbert by a 51-30% margin.
Republicans are nearly united behind Herbert by a 90-2% tally.
Those numbers simply aren’t going to get it done if Weinholtz is to have any chance of upsetting Herbert in November.
The gender gap in this race is also working against Weinholtz.
Herbert leads among male voters 65-20%.
Female voters break toward Herbert by a 63-25% margin.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted July 18 – August 4, 2016, among 858 likely Utah voters with a margin of error +/- 3.34%