First Results of GOP Survey Show Republicans Want to Comply with SB54

The first set of results from the Utah GOP's survey of delegates about how to proceed in the face of SB54 show a party struggling to come to terms with a new electoral landscape.

The results (through May 12) show that a majority of the three groups surveyed by the GOP: elected officials, state delegates and the Republican base, all feel the party should comply with the tenets of SB54 and become a qualified political party. That means the GOP would have to allow candidates to bypass the caucus/convention system by gathering signatures to get on the primary ballot. The GOP would also have to allow non-affiliated voters to cast ballots in that primary. 55% of Republcians, 61% of state delegates and 87.5% of elected officials who responded to the survey request say the GOP should become a qualified party under SB54.

None of the three groups surveyed say the party should open their primary to unaffiliated voters, which is one of the requirements to become a qualified party under SB54. Many observers say that part of the law is the most likely to be struck down in the court case currently before a federal judge.

When asked whether the GOP should continue its legal challenge against SB54, the Republican base is split while state delegates and elected officials are still down for the fight. 47% of the Republican base want to continue the court battle, while 44% do not. 65% of state delegates and 60% of the party's elected officials say the legal fight should continue.

One of the most controversial proposals floated in the wake of SB54 was a requirement that candidates who choose to bypass the caucus/convention system either sign a statement that they agree with the GOP platform, or declare where they differ. Another idea would have those candidates who choose the signature route meet with a committee formed by the party for an interview to see if they are actually Republicans – the fear being that candidates who are not Republicans could get on the ballot under the party auspices.

All three groups surveyed like the idea of requiring all candidates to sign the ballot disclosure statement. 65% of the GOP base, 70% of state party delegates and 80% of elected officials agree.

However, none of the groups are enamored with the idea to make candidates meet with a so-called "purity committee" to see if they are actually members of the party. Surprisingly, state delegates are nearly evenly split on the interview idea – 45% are in favor and 47% are opposed. Just 33% of GOP voters favor that idea while a whopping 69% of elected officials oppose it.

All three groups do favor prohibiting candidates who are members of another party from appearing on the Republican primary ballot.

Another sticky issue is whether candidates who use the signature method to get on the ballot, instead of through the caucus/convention system, should have access to party campaign resources like mailing lists, volunteers and other data tools. Republican voters are split on the idea, with 43% saying those candidates should be entitled to party support while 66% of state delegates and 73% of elected officials say no. 

If a candidate were to use both the caucus system and signature route to get on the ballot, all three groups favor allowing them to have access to party resources.

Republicans across the board like raising the vote threshold at convention to send a candidate to a primary. Right now, if a candidate can get 60% of the delegate vote, they would avoid a primary. Most of the three groups seem to favor requiring a candidate to get at least 35% of the vote at convention to force a primary, meaning it would take a 65% vote to win the nomination outright.

One of the real perils of SB54 is a candidate could win a party's nomination with just a plurality of the vote instead of a majority. Under the old caucus/convention system, only two candidates could go to a primary ensuring one would win a majority. Now, with the possibliity of three or more names on the ballot, someone could win without a majority. 56% of the GOP base, 65% of state delegates and 67% of elected officials say the legislature should change the law to make sure the eventual winner secures a majority in order to advance to the general election. Lawmakers considered a bill during the 2015 session to do just that, but that measure would have kicked the final decision back to the party, something that Count My Vote organizers vehemently opposed.


Utah GOP Survey Results (through 5/12)