Poll: Utahns say the Utah GOP should drop its lawsuit against SB54

Newly-elected state GOP chairman Rob Anderson told UtahPolicy last week that he expects at a September meeting of the party’s new Central Committee, members will decide to drop the SB54 appeal in federal court.

If the party leaders do that, they will be following the wishes of many Utahns, even many Republicans, a new UtahPolicy.com poll finds.

Across the demographic board, many Utahns don’t care what Utah’s majority party does concerning SB54 – the “don’t know’s” register a large number of respondents to a new Dan Jones & Associates survey.

But in all groups, more say drop the lawsuit than say continue it – except one area, those who said they are “very conservative” politically.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • Among all Utahns, 45 percent say the state GOP should drop the lawsuit, which has put the party $300,000 in debt.
  • Only 17 percent say the party should continue its appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
  • 37 percent don’t have an opinion – which is a large “don’t know” number and generally reflects ignorance of the issue.


Jones finds that a lot of Utahns don’t know or care about the lawsuit

However, other Jones polls show Utahns like the idea of SB54, which allows candidates to decide for themselves whether to collect voter signatures to get on a party’s ballot, or go through a delegate/convention process, or take both paths at the same time.

Time and again, polls show Utahns want to decide for themselves who wins a party primary elections, and not give that decision to party delegates in nominating conventions.

The Utah Republican Party has lost two suits in federal district court in challenging SB54 and lost a special appeal before the Utah Supreme Court.

An appeal to the 10th Circuit – which has already been filed – is the only legal course left to the party.

As may be expected, Jones finds that among Utah Republicans support to continue the appeal is stronger.

But even there, it is not a majority – only 24 percent, or one-fourth, of Utah Republicans want their party to continue the lawsuit.

  • 35 percent of Republicans say drop the appeal.
  • And 41 percent don’t have an opinion.

Democrats and political independents tell their Republican brethren to drop the suit – 60 percent to 11 percent among Democrats; 56-10 percent among political independents.

Among those who self-identified to Jones that they are “very conservative” politically, 32 percent say continue the lawsuit, 26 percent say drop it, while 42 percent are undecided on what should be done.

  • 43 percent of the “somewhat conservative” Utahns say drop the suit, 16 percent say go forward, and 41 percent don’t know.

A majority of moderates, somewhat liberals and very liberals all want the suit dropped.

Anderson says since the appeal papers have already been filed in the 10th Circuit – and since the appeal won’t be heard by the court before September – the party doesn’t really have to do anything this summer.

In the September meeting of the State Central Committee – the first of the newly-elected 180-member party governing body — Anderson will ask what should be done.

And he hopes – he believes – the SCC will vote to end the lawsuit, and Anderson and other party leaders can go about fundraising to get the party out of a $450,000 overall debt.

Anderson told UtahPolicy he’s having some success in getting pro-SB54 Republicans to start giving again.

But as long as the lawsuit is alive, Anderson won’t be able to approach many donors who disagreed all along with opposition to SB54 – and supported the Count My Vote citizen initiative petition back in 2014.

Jones broke out the results by geographic areas of the state, and finds:

  • In Salt Lake County – with about 40 percent of the state’s population — 50 percent of the residents said the SB54 suit should be dropped, only 19 percent want it continued.
  • Davis County, 46 percent say drop it, 13 percent say continue the appeal.
  • Utah County, a conservative/Republican enclave, 43 percent say drop it, 13 percent say continue.
  • Northern Utah, 44-14 percent say drop the suit over continue it.
  • Southern Utah, 37-24 percent say drop it.

Jones polled 607 adults from May 31 to June 5. The poll has a margin of error of 3.98 percent statewide.