Poll gives Huntsman highest approval ratings among Utah political figures

Jon Huntsman 03

So, who is the most popular officeholder/candidate in Utah?

Surprise — it’s not GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, who has been in that spot for some time.

It’s former GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Herbert comes in second.

So says a new Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

The poll is also good news for Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, who finds himself quite popular in his 4th District as he seeks his first re-election.

As UtahPolicy.com has pointed out several times in recent weeks, Huntsman, running for his old office of governor this year, finds himself in a very perilous position — he may not get on the Republican Party’s primary ballot by gathering signatures of GOP registered voters, and if not his fate lies in the hands of conservative 2018 GOP state delegates, not the place he wants to be.

In short, Huntsman may not make it to the late-June closed GOP primary ballot — and wouldn’t that be strange for a guy who, Jones finds, is the most popular candidate in the state.

Here are the numbers:

— Huntsman has a favorable rating of 66-21 percent — two-thirds of Utahns have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of him, 21 percent have a “somewhat” or “very” unfavorable opinion.

— Herbert has a favorable rating of 64-24 percent.

— GOP President Donald Trump stands at 56-43 percent favorable.

— U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney is at 56-42 percent. So, it appears among all Utahns, Romney’s vote to impeach Trump on one article earlier this year is not hurting him much.

— U.S. Sen. Mike Lee is at 54-39 percent favorable.

And Jones finds that other Republican candidates for governor this year fall off a bit in their favorable ratings — with many Utahns not knowing who they are:

— GOP Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox stands at 54-13 percent favorable. But 18 percent don’t know who he is.

— Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes is at 25-23 percent favorable, with 33 percent not knowing who he is.

— Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton is at 18-5 favorable, but 56 percent don’t know her.

— Former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright is at 16-9 percent favorable, with 54 percent don’t know him.

— Provo businessman Jeff Burningham is 17-9 percent favorable, but 52 percent don’t know.

— And Jan Garbett, who just got in the race, is 7-6 percent favorable, with 71 percent not knowing her.

McAdams, who is still recovering from a serious bout with the coronavirus, is looking pretty good politically:

— McAdams is at 63-23 percent favorable, with only 5 percent not knowing who he is in his district.

Asked if McAdams deserves a second term, 62 percent said yes, with only 32 percent saying someone else should get a chance to serve. That’s called a “naked re-elected” in polling terms, because no Republican is put against him. At 62 percent, that is a very good number for McAdams.

— U.S. Rep. Chis Stewart in his 2nd District gets a 44-23 percent favorable, with 14 percent not knowing who he is. He has a naked re-elected of 44-40 percent — which is not very good. Any incumbent wants to be above 50 percent in his “naked re-elect.”

— And 3rd District U.S. Rep. John Curtis stands at 47-11 percent favorable. But 23 percent don’t know who Curtis is. He has a naked re-elect of 51-17 percent.

Jones polled 798 voters statewide for a margin of effort of plus or minus 3.47 percent.