Poll: Herbert and Matheson Running for Governor Would Generate Most Interest

Memo to potential challengers for Utah Governor in 2016 – you’ve got to work on your name ID.

We floated some names of possible candidates for governor in 2016 past Utah voters in our latest UtahPolicy.com poll. What we found is outside of the incumbent Gary Herbert and Democrat Jim Matheson, most Utahns have no idea who the rest of the possible field is.

Dan Jones and Associates asked how interesting it would be if certain people were to run for governor next year.

Of course incumbent Gov.Gary Herbert leads the way as 56% said it would be interesting if he were to run for another term. Retired Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson was right behind with 53% saying they would be interested in his candidacy. After that, it’s a precipetous fall for everyone else.

  • 22% said Attorney General Sean Reyes would be an interesting candidate

  • 23% thought a campaign by Gail Miller, widow of businessman Larry Miller, would be of some interest

  • 23% said they would pay attention to a run by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams

  • 8% said Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie would get their attention

  • Just 4% said new House Speaker Greg Hughes’ candidacy would be interesting

  • Only 2% said they would be interested in a run by Overstock.com Chairman of the Board Jonathan Johnson

Among Republican voters only Gary Herbert generated much interest at 71%. Not surprisingly 79% of Democrats thought Jim Matheson running for the state's top spot would be intriguing.

Most of these results can be directly attributed to the power of name recognition. Quite a few voters said they had never heard of many of the people in our poll:

  • 26% said they had never heard of Reyes

  • 61% have never heard of Hughes

  • 39% don’t know who Miller is

  • 54% haven’t heard of Beattie

  • 40% have never heard of McAdams

  • 77% say they’ve never heard of Johnson

Naturally, all of this is purely speculation at this point. Hughes and McAdams would most likely not make a run at governor in 2016 as they have their own re-election bids to think about. Gail Miller’s name has been bandied about in some circles but she is not thought of as a serious candidate right now.

Only Jonathan Johnson has made moves toward a candidacy so far, most notably hiring campaign strategist Dave Hansen to head up his efforts if he decides to run. 

The survey was conducted December 22, 2014 – January 10, 2015 among 715 registered Utah voters. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.66%.