It’s gonna take a lot more to oust Chaffetz in 2018

Memo to Utah Democrats: Waiting for Jason Chaffetz to self-immolate isn’t gonna work.

I know you’ve been rubbing your hands together with glee watching Rep. Jason Chaffetz get pounded in the national media. He certainly stepped in it lately with his iPhone/health care comments. He also stoked some ire for his refusal to investigate President Donald Trump after he so lustily went after Hillary Clinton for the past few years. His town hall meeting in February was not his best moment when he was lustily booed by those in attendance.

But, if you think he’s going to keep this up and self-destruct before the 2018 election, you don’t understand the political reality in Utah.

Oh sure, our most recent survey showed that his popularity has suffered

Chaffetz is smart. Underestimate him at your peril. Just ask Chris Cannon about that.

Utahns do not vote for Democrats unless they are convinced to vote for Democrats, and that takes a lot of convincing. Just because a sitting Congressman said something stupid is not enough.

Are you conveniently forgetting that Donald Trump won Utah by 18 points in 2016? Not even the Access Hollywood tape was enough to convince Utahns to turn away from the Republican nominee. Utahns got upset about the recording, where Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. At first, Chaffetz thought it would be politically toxic for Trump, but he changed his tune, hedging his bet just in case Trump ended up winning.

Evan McMullin got 21% of the vote in Utah, but he was essentially a Republican. Democrats were not going to pick up those votes. Republican Party Chair James Evans got tons of grief for insisting that GOP voters would “come home” and vote for Trump, despite polls showing the state was a toss-up. He was right, though.

And, unless Democrats start offering up some workable alternatives to Chaffetz, the same thing will happen here. Republicans will feign outrage, but they’ll come home to vote for the GOP.

Utah Democrats are ecstatic that physician Kathryn Allen has raised $500,000 already for her challenge to Chaffetz. That’s all well and good, but money alone is not going to be enough to beat Chaffetz. Plus, most of that money is from out of state, fueled mostly by Chaffetz’s outbursts.

This is not to say that Chaffetz isn’t vulnerable. He clearly is. But it won’t be a Democrat who takes him out in 2018. If anyone has a chance at unseating him, it will be a Republican.

There are several Republicans who are considering mounting a primary challenge to Chaffetz next year. American Fork lawyer Damian Kidd has already announced he is stepping into the GOP ring. Our polling shows that’s going to be a difficult hill to climb. 76% of Republicans in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District view Chaffetz favorably. Those numbers are going to have to drop dramatically if any Republican is going to have a prayer of knocking off Chaffetz in 2018.

There’s one other big part to this. You’ll notice that Chaffetz has cut back on his media appearances, which takes away any ammunition he might provide to his opponents.

Chaffetz badly misread the political landscape following the 2016 election. His support for Trump was not as bulletproof as he may have thought, and he paid for it. But, any setback will likely be temporary. Voters have very short memories, so those iPhone/healthcare gaffes will quickly face into obscurity.