Poll: Stevenson, Witt lead race for GOP nomination in Utah’s 1st Congressional District

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Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson is ahead in the U.S. 1st District House GOP race to replace retiring Rep. Rob Bishop, a new UtahPolicy.com/KUTV 2News poll finds.

But when you take in the margin of error, it could be a tie contest between Stevenson and Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, who places second in the Y2 Analytics survey.

The survey of 103 “likely” GOP primary voters in the district finds Stevenson with 25 percent support, Witt with 17 percent support, with the rest of the 12-person field further back.

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Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party’s two-person race, Y2 finds that Darren Parry is ahead of Jamie Cheek. But there is even a larger margin of error in that race — Y2 had a hard time finding Democrats in the survey. So that race is clearly up for grabs.

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The northern Utah-based 1st District is heavily Republican. Bishop won his re-elections easily. So it’s very likely that whoever gets the GOP nomination in the primary will win the seat in November.

Bishop is retiring this year, and in fact, is running for Lieutenant Governor with former Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright as governor.

Stevenson and Witt’s campaigns will continue beyond this coming Saturday’s GOP state convention, for both also took the signature-gathering route and got the 7,000 signatures of registered 1st District Republicans to make the late-June closed GOP ballot.

But the other 10 candidates in the race must finish first or second in the delegate convention count, or they are out and won’t be on the primary ballot. (Candidate Blake Moore also took the signature route, but he has only 4,525 signatures verified, even though some are still being counted by the Utah Elections Office. So there’s an outside chance he could make the ballot via signatures, still.)

Stevenson and Witt are also in the convention. So if one of them gets 60 percent of the delegate vote, they will be the delegate favorite. But neither Stevenson nor Witt can be eliminated in the convention because they are guaranteed a ballot spot via the SB54 signature route.

Likewise, if one of the other 10 get 60 percent of the delegate vote, then they advance to the primary with Stevenson and Witt.

Or if not, then the top two move to the primary.

So, depending on what happens in the convention, two (Stevenson and Witt), or three, or four GOP candidates could be on the primary ballot.

Make sense?

Welcome to the new world of candidate signature gathering and/or convention votes.

To make things even a bit crazier at the convention, delegate balloting with be IRV — Instant Runoff Voting. Each of the 1,000 1st District delegates will get one ballot, all 12 candidates listed, and they can rank them as they see fit — their first choice to their 12th choice.

IRV means the ultimate one or two candidates coming out of the convention could be the delegates’ collective 2nd, or 3rd or even 4th vote on their ballots — if their 1st choice drops out in early rounds of counting — making candidates’ campaigning really up in the air among the delegates.

The margin of error among Y2’s 1st District GOP sample is plus or minus 9.7 percent.

So, while Stevenson is ahead of Witt by 9 percentage points in the poll, it’s possible the race between the two could be much closer, or Stevenson could have an even greater lead than 9 points.

Witt, a former campaign worker for U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney who headed up his neighborhood caucus effort, is clearly playing the archconservative card — perhaps in part because Romney has been criticized for not supporting GOP President Donald Trump enough in the Senate.

Stevenson, who has been in public office for some time, is taking the more traditional route, while still maintaining a conservative message. For example, he’s hired long-time GOP campaign consultant Dave Hansen to help him with the race.

FEC reports show that Stevenson has raised $221,269 so far, while Witt has raised $191,073.

There are a number of the 12 GOP candidates who now hold or have held, locally-elected office, and so are trying to build their local geographic support into a district-wide congressional campaign.

For example, Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd is third in the poll with 13 percent support.

Candidate Tina Cannon is a Morgan County Council member. She has 8 percent support.

Y2 polled 1st District “likely” GOP primary voters from March 21-30.

Utah Policy.com is partnering with KUTV 2 News and Y2 Analytics and will be providing polling results on a regular basis throughout the election season.