Poll shows Huntsman and Cox tied in GOP governor’s race

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Former Gov. Jon Huntsman has pulled into a virtual tie with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox among likely Republican primary voters according to a new poll.

The Dan Jones & Associates survey obtained by UtahPolicy.com shows Huntsman leading cox among likely GOP voters 32-28%. That is within the poll’s margin of error of +/- 4.0%. 

Cox had an 11-point lead over Huntsman (41-29%) in a November UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics survey. That lead has seemingly evaporated as Huntsman officially joined the GOP primary race and began a television advertising campaign. The UtahPolicy.com survey polled registered Utah Republican voters, while the Dan Jones survey polled likely GOP primary voters, so it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison between the two surveys.

Among unaffiliated voters, Huntsman had a sizeable lead over Cox, 35-23%. 

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The other GOP hopefuls were far behind the two frontrunners, with none of them breaking double-digit support. Provo businessman Jeff Burningham had 6-percent support, former Utah GOP chairman Thomas Wright was at 3-percent, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes pulled in 2-percent support and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton was at 1 percent.

Retiring Rep. Rob Bishop got 8-percent in the survey, but he announced last week he was joining Wright’s campaign as his running mate. 

19% of likely Republican voters were undecided.

The survey also tested a hypothetical GOP primary matchup between Huntsman and Cox. Huntsman enjoys a narrow six-point lead over Cox 53-47%. Independent voters in that potential matchup favor Huntsman by nearly a 2-1 margin 63-37%. The Utah GOP primary in June will be closed, meaning only registered Republicans can cast a ballot. Independent and Democratic voters could potentially cast a ballot in the Republican primary, but only if they register as Republicans.

The poll also looked at the favorability ratings for the potential GOP field. 57% of Utahns viewed Huntsman favorably while just 19% had a negative view of the former Utah governor, giving him a net positive of +38 points.

Cox also enjoyed positive approval ratings, with 43% of Utahns saying they view him favorably and 11% with a negative opinion, giving him a net positive of +32 points. However, nearly half of Utahns (47%) said they either had no opinion of the current Lt. Governor or had not heard of him.

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The rest of the Republican field so far is struggling with their name ID among Utah voters.

  • 70% of Utahns said they had no opinion or had not heard about Hughes.
  • Burningham has been campaigning the longest, meeting with potential voters since last spring, but 76% did not have an opinion or did not know who he is
  • 77% said they were not familiar with Winder Newton.
  • 82% responded they were unfamiliar with Wright.

The Dan Jones survey was conducted January 6-15, 2020 among 604 likely Utah voters. It has a margin of error of 4.0%.