A new poll of registered voters in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District shows the race to replace outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz is wide open.
Among the findings of the Dan Jones & Associates survey:
47% of voters expect him to step down before his term is up in 2018, while 42% say he won’t. 12% don’t know.
A plurality of respondents (35%) expect him to run for governor in 2020. 27% think he’ll take a job in the private sector. 11% think he’ll run for Senate in 2018 while 6% believe he’ll end up hosting a political television show.
If Chaffetz steps down early, Gov. Gary Herbert would call a special election to replace him.
Respondents were also asked whether they would vote for a Republican or Democrat to replace Chaffetz if that election were held today.
51% said they would vote for a Republican while 22% said they would cast a ballot for a Democrat.
18% said their vote would depend on who the candidate is. 8% didn’t know while 1% said they would vote for another party.
Jones asked voters if they had any particular candidates they would support if Chaffetz were to step down. Without listing any candidates, 82% of voters said they didn’t know. 4% of voters mentioned Democrat Kathryn Allen, while 2% said Provo Mayor John Curtis or Republican State Sen. Deidre Henderson.
Allen made some early waves by raising more than $500,000 during the first quarter of 2017.
Jones also asked voters who they would support from a list of names who might run for Chaffetz’s seat if he stepped down early.
13% picked former independent candidate Evan McMullin.
12% settled on Utah Valley University President Matt Holland.
6% said Provo Mayor John Curtis.
6% stated they would vote for Democrat Kathryn Allen.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and State Sen. Deidre Henderson each got 4% support.
Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson and Republican State Sen. Brian Shiozawa got 3% support.
38% said they didn’t know.
Republican Damian Kidd, who officially entered the race for the 2018 nomination gets just 1% of the vote but was not mentioned when voters were not given a list of potential candidates.
Republican voters in the 3rd District seemingly like Matt Holland (17%) and Evan McMullin (15%) over other potential candidates. 18% of Democrats in the 3rd District would vote for Kathryn Allen, while 8% would pick Holland. 35% of Republicans and 45% of Democrats say they’re undecided.
These numbers are in line with a Y2 Analytics survey released last week which pegged Holland with the most support among 3rd District voters.
Simply put, most of the support for any potential or declared candidate is simply name recognition at this point.
Additionally, these numbers could point to big trouble for Evan McMullin, Kathryn Allen and Damian Kidd down the road. McMullin only got significant support for voters once his name was mentioned. Very few mentioned McMullin unprompted, while Kidd pulled very little support despite being a declared candidate.
As for Allen, Utah’s 3rd District is the 16th most-Republican in the country according to the Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index. UT3 is rated as +25 Republican advantage. The fact that only 22% of voters would pick a Democratic candidate shows that built-in advantage is a big problem.
If Chaffetz steps down early, it’s not known how the candidates to replace him will be chosen. Currently, that process is up to Gov. Herbert as state law doesn’t specify a procedure. Some lawmakers want Herbert to call a special session to codify a procedure to replace U.S. House members who resign, but Herbert says he’s not inclined to do that as he’s worried legislators who have an eye on replacing Chaffetz would try to “game the system.” Utah is one of two states never to have a sitting U.S. House member resign early.
The Dan Jones & Associates poll was conducted April 21-25, 207 among 419 registered voters in Utah’s 3rd District with a margin of error +/- 4.79%.