The Count My Vote citizen initiative won’t be on the Nov. 6 ballot – thanks to a successful anti-SB54 drive by opponents who got a few hundred folks to take their names off of the CMV petitions.
Also thanks to the Utah Supreme Court, who refused to put the measure on the ballot when CMV sued.
But a recent UtahPolicy.com poll by Dan Jones & Associates finds that if the initiative had been up before voters, it would have passed easily.
Even most Utah Republicans like SB54, even though an archconservative group of party state central committee members keeps their lawsuit against the law going.
Seventy-percent of voters approve of the SB54 dual-route to a primary ballot – which the Count My Vote initiative would have enshrined into state law.
Only 22 percent are opposed to SB54/CMV.
And 8 percent didn’t know.
The high numbers in favor of SB54 remains important, as it is likely in the 2019, GOP-controlled Legislature, another effort will be made by conservative, caucus-only Republican legislators to either gut SB54 or repeal it all together.
GOP Gov. Gary Herbert has promised to veto any bill that tries to do that. But one never knows how partisan GOP lawmakers will act when faced with what has become a four-year, expensive battle to do away with SB54 – a struggle that has bankrupted the Utah Republican Party and continues to hamstring party fundraising.
Hard-nosed, anti-CMV folks on the state Republican Party’s Central Committee – the 180-member group that runs the party – earlier this month made their final legal appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, trying to overturn SB54.
Their efforts will likely fail there. The high court has ruled in other cases that states can control who gets on their taxpayer-funded primary ballots.
But even if the Keep My Voice folks fail there, they may file new lawsuits in state or federal courts locally – where they have lost already.
In any case, Jones finds in a recent survey that by far most Utahns favor the dual-track route – a party candidate can go only through the caucus/delegate/convention route to make it on his party’s primary ballot, he can gather a set number of voter signatures, or he can take both routes at the same time.
One of the reasons the bi-partisan Count My Vote supporters wanted a signature route to the primary ballot is so some candidates could bypass their party delegates – who are more conservative on the GOP side, more liberal on the Democratic side.
The archconservative nature of GOP delegates has been seen time and again – Herbert finished behind his archconservative convention challenger in 2016, only to slam him in the Republican primary.
And U.S. Rep. John Curtis wouldn’t have even gotten to his 3rd District 2017 primary vote (which he won over an archconservative challenger) if not for the SB54 signature-gathering route.
Among Utah GOP voters, 58 percent said “all candidates, including those who gather signatures” should be able to make the Republican primary ballot.
35 percent of Republicans say only caucus/convention candidates should be on the ballot. And 7 percent of Republicans don’t know.
Democrats and independents have no doubts:
By 84-6 percent, Democrats want GOP candidates to have a choice of routes.
Independents agree, 79-12 percent.
One may argue that Democrats and independents’ opinions on how Republicans pick their party nominees shouldn’t have any bearing.
But in many races in very red Utah, it is a forgone conclusion who will win the final election – the Republican nominee will.
And so Democrats and independents – who can’t vote in the closed Utah GOP primary election – still may want the less-conservative Republican to prevail – for he or she will be their governor, U.S. senator or House member, or legislator.
Not surprisingly, the only group that doesn’t favor SB54 by high majorities are those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically – and so would want their delegate-chosen guy to win the party nomination:
The “very conservative” folks are split on SB54; 47 percent favor it, 46 percent oppose it, and 8 percent are undecided.
The “somewhat conservative” voters favor SB54’s dual route, 74-21 percent.
“Moderates” favor it, 83-7 percent.
Those who said they are “somewhat liberal” politically favor it, 87-6 percent.
And the “very liberals,” favor it 82-6 percent.
The SB54 dual route law is not necessarily religious in nature. But more than 80 percent of the state House and Senate are faithful members of the LDS Church.
According, Mormon lawmakers may want to know how their fellow church members feel about this issue:
64 percent of “very active” Mormons support SB54’s dual route, only 28 percent oppose it, and 11 percent are undecided.
Jones polled 809 voters from Aug. 22-31. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.