Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Johnson Challenges Herbert

Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson announced he would challenge Gov. Gary Herbert for the 2016 Republican nomination. Our "Political Insiders" think Johnson has a lot of work to do if he's going to win next year.

74% of the Republicans on our panel, 78% of Democrats and 68% of our readers think, right now, Herbert is likely to defeat Johnson in a primary election. 

Republicans and our readers give Johnson a better chance of winning next year than do Democrats. 22% of Republicans we asked and 27% of our readers think Johnson will win while just 9% of Democrats believe that.


Johnson made some waves when he hired Republican campaign guru Dave Hansen to run his organization. Our insiders and readers think Hansen will have to pull off a political miracle if Johnson is to win next year.

Selected anonymous comments:

"Governor Herbert is too popular to defeat this time. The run will set Jonathan up for a run next time."

"Herbert, while not a favorite of the far right fringe, is a well-known commodity and will do well with the mainstream GOP voters. Johnson is still such an unknown, who has never won an election in his life."
"There is no good reason to replace Herbert with Johnson. Under Herbert's leadership, Utah is thriving."
"The coming year to 18 months will be full of large and small political surprises. The first sign is the Biskupski upset of Becker, and the same uncertainty and unrest will play out in the governor's race and the national election primary. Voters want something different and more compelling meaning Herbert will lose his seat and Hillary her nomination. And on it goes."
"Johnson is a good man, a bit conservative but accessible. He has a great machine to back him."
"Governor Herbert's approval rating is so high that it is unlikely he could be beaten in a primary. Jonathan Johnson brings a lot to the table, but he is running now so that he can run again in 2020."
"Herbert is largely doing a great job, so it would have been hard for any candidate to beat him. A libertarian-leaning candidate like Johnson has even less chance in a primary with broader participation than just delegates."
"Herbert's opposition to open carry, his support for Medicaid expansion, his lack of engagement in the agencies leaving administrators with lots of regulatory power will all combine to create some opposition among grassroots conservatives in a close primary loss."
"It is telling that Johnson's campaign message, as given at the Republican organizing convention, was that we are in the most dangerous period because things are going so well. That is the time to be particularly vigilant because it is so easy to let down our guard. The message I hear is that Governor Herbert is doing too good a job, and we should replace him now before things get out of hand."
"Johnson has no chance. No. Chance."
"Gary has done a lot of things right and will have a lot of establishment support. What most people are missing or are just dismissing is the groundswell of anger at the grassroots level. People are pissed off at the establishment, look at the support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. That is happening at the state level as well. People are not happy, and that usually leads to some change for better or worse."
"I just don't see how Johnson creates a wedge issue large enough to topple Gary."
"Primary voters are conservative. Governor Herbert is not conservative."
"Both Jonathan Johnson and Governor Herbert have weaknesses as candidates, but Jonathan Johnson has displayed his libertarian streak too prominently over the past several years. That will hurt his candidacy."
"I don't think the timing is right for Johnson. I see it as a long-term play for him. He'll lose in the primary (if he can even get that far), but I expect him to be around in 2020. I do regret seeing another wealthy guy running. I disagree with buying speaking time at Convention on principle, but more than that its the amount to do it. It just seems almost out of touch with what regular folk are looking to spend their money on."
"It will be a great test of Dave Hansen's political acumen."
"7-1/2 years is long enough for a governor. Johnson will win."