Poll: Utahns don’t care which route a candidate uses to get on the ballot

Tanner Ainge and John Curtis can take a big sigh of relief – a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows that three-fourths of voters don’t care they are taking the signature-gathering route to the 3rd U.S. House District primary ballot.

In a new survey, UtahPolicy’s pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 73 percent of voters statewide say it doesn’t matter to them which primary route a candidate takes, they will vote for the best candidate.

The same goes for Utah Republicans, and the same applies to various parts of the state, including counties that take in the 3rd Congressional District – parts of Salt Lake, Utah and Southern Utah.

The latest survey results are yet another confirmation that Utahns like SB54, with its dual routes to a party’s primary ballot, and are not wedded to the old delegate/convention party process of picking nominees.

This coming Saturday, around 1,000 state GOP delegates from the 3rd District will meet at Timpview High School to vote on 11 Republican candidates seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who plans to resign June 30.

Democratic delegates will also vote on three candidates in that party’s state organizing convention in Ogden.

There are two GOP candidates – Ainge and Provo Mayor Curtis – who have been, or will likely be, certified to the Aug. 15 primary election via collecting 7,000 signatures in the 3rd District of registered GOP voters.

Ainge is not even going to be voted on at the GOP convention – he took only the signature route.

Curtis took both paths at the same time, as SB54 allows. So, while his name will be before GOP 3rd District delegates Saturday, it is unlikely he will ultimately be chosen, for a variety of reasons.

And it’s true, among just Republican Party delegates, that it may make a difference if a candidate chooses to get on the ballot with or without their vote.


But Jones finds that it doesn’t much matter to regular Utah voters – including registered Republicans:

  • 73 percent of Utahns told Jones they would vote for the “best candidate” – regardless how that candidate got on the ballot.
  • Just 11 percent said they would vote for a delegate/convention candidate, just because he or she took that route to the ballot.
  • 9 percent said they would vote for the signature route candidate.
  • And 7 percent didn’t know.

Those numbers don’t change much as you walk through the various demographics of the respondents:

  • Among Utah Republicans: 73 percent said candidate route doesn’t matter to them; 15 percent said they would prefer the delegate-voted candidate; 7 percent said they would support the signature route candidate; 6 percent didn’t know.
  • Utah Democrats: 75 percent said they don’t care what route a candidate takes, they will vote for the best one; 5 percent said they like the delegate candidate; 16 percent said the signature candidate; 5 percent didn’t know.
  • Political independents: 76 percent don’t care what route a candidate takes; 7 percent like the delegate candidate, 9 percent like the signature candidate; and 8 percent don’t know.

Yes, you can always trust the “very conservative” respondents to a Jones’ poll to take the more traditional stance.

But even among the “most conservatives” in Utah, 65 percent said they don’t care what route a candidate takes, 21 percent said they favor a delegate candidate, 7 percent like the signature candidate, and 7 percent don’t know.

Among all the other “political philosophies” – moderates, somewhat liberal, very liberal — all favor the “best” candidate, regardless of the route they took to the primary, by 75 percent or above.

In the 2016 elections, several Republican Party county organizations actually OPPOSED a GOP candidate pre-primary if that candidate did not get at least 40 percent of their convention delegates votes.

So, of course, any candidate – like Ainge – who didn’t even appear before delegates, was officially opposed by his own party.

Really strange.

But the state Utah Republican Party doesn’t currently have that rule in place.

So Ainge, whose signature petitions have been certified to the primary by the Utah Elections Office, and Curtis, who turned in twice as many signatures as he needed and likely will be certified, will not officially be opposed by their own state party before the Aug. 15 primary.

However, because of a state party rule change made just weeks ago, there will be only one candidate come out of Saturday’s GOP 3rd District delegate vote.

So, it appears we will have three candidates on the Aug. 15 GOP ballot – with only one being picked by delegates.

One would think, according to Jones’ poll, that the delegate-approved candidate would get 15 percent of the primary vote, just based on how he/she got there.

But 73 percent of Utah Republicans don’t care – they will vote for whom they believe is the best candidate.

Jones polled 607 adults from May 31 to June 5. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent.