President Donald Trump has a shockingly low ceiling of support in Republican-dominated Utah as he runs for re-election in 2020 according to a new Utah Political Trends survey from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics.
Trump carried Utah in 2016 with just 45.5% of the vote. That lack of majority support was primarily due to the presence of independent candidate Evan McMullen on the ballot. McMullen pulled 21.5% of voters that year. Our new survey suggests Utah voters are again pining for an alternative to Trump and whoever the Democrats end up nominating this year.
It is almost inconceivable that Trump will fail to carry Utah in 2020. However, his unpopularity, coupled with the state’s traditional hostility to Democratic candidates, could leave an opening for a third-party or independent candidate to capture a significant amount of the vote next year.
For this survey, our panel was asked to decide a hypothetical head to head matchup between Trump and some of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls. The Democratic candidates were assigned randomly to our panelists, and not every panelist was presented with all of the pairings.
The survey found Trump’s average level of support in each of the hypothetical matchups was 40%, while the Democratic candidate averaged 35%. 15% said they would support a third-party candidate. 5% told us they would vote for a candidate not listed in our choices, while 6% had no opinion.
The 40% average support for Trump mirrors his 2016 vote total, while the 35% average is close to the traditional ceiling of support for a statewide Democratic candidate.
Trump’s support flagged in some individual head-to-head matchups with some of the leading Democratic candidates:
Trump trailed New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker 43-31%
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led Trump by 6-points (44-38%), which is a statistical tie given the larger margin of error.
Trump ran almost even against Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren 39-36%. He was also tied with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump had a statistically significant lead over California Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Kelly Patterson of Y2 Analytics says Trump’s struggles against some of the Democratic hopefuls is a function of how well known those opponents are to voters.
“Preferences for the Democratic candidates are not well-formed and grounded,” he said. “This is especially true in a state where there are not many Democrats and nobody knows who the nominee will be and they don’t know much about the candidates. You can see this by people peeling off and choosing a third-party candidate, which is a ‘catchall’ category for individuals who may not like the choices or who may know little right now about the candidates.”
Patterson says the numbers show Utah voters continue to be uneasy supporting Trump.
“Trump’s vote does not appear to go very high in a state where Republicans hold a large majority,” he said. “Trump not only has a low ceiling of support, but his performance depends, as you might expect, on the opponent he faces.”
Trump’s unpopularity in the 4th District continues as his average support against the Democratic candidates is just 36%, while Democrats average 41% support, which would be a statistical tie given the larger margin of error due to smaller sample sizes. Trump carried this district with 39% in 2016. The numbers from our current survey suggest that level of support has not changed much, with Trump not expanding his level of support beyond his current base of supporters.
Trump also struggles in the 2nd Congressional District, averaging just 37% support, while the Democratic field averaged 42%. Again, that suggests a statistical tie because of the larger margin of error. However, it is significant that Trump’s popularity is seemingly waning given the fervent support from Rep. Chris Stewart who is one of Trump’s most enthusiastic backers in Congress. Trump got 46% in UT02 in the 2016 election.
There is a significant gender gap between men and women in support for Trump. In our hypothetical matchups, Trump averaged 45% support from men, but just 33% support from women.
The Utah Political Trends Survey was conducted by Y2 Analytics among 1,017 registered Utah voters from July 31-August 6, 2019. More information about the polling methodology is available here. You can read more about how our panelists are selected here.