Just how toxic would a Donald Trump nomination be for Republicans in Utah?
It’s been widely speculated that Trump could depress turnout, especially among Republican voters, which may provide an electoral boost for some Democrats. That may be case.
A new UtahPolicy.com survey finds if Trump were to win the Republican nomination, Utahns would be all over the map when asked who they would vote for. Only 28% of Utahns said they would vote for Trump. 31% said they would vote for the Democrat while 29% said they would cast a ballot for someone else. 6% of Utahns said they would not cast a ballot.
Trump would not win a majority of Republicans as 41% say they would cast a ballot for him while 34% say they will vote for someone else. 7% of Utah Republicans responded they wouldn’t vote at all.
84% of Utah Democrats say they would vote for the Democratic nominee, which is not surprising. Only 2% said they would vote for Trump while 3% would not vote.
The biggest surprise is among independent voters, who tend to lean Republican. Only 17% of that group would vote for Trump. 36% said they would vote for the Democrat while 34% would pick someone else. 6% of that group would not vote.
The biggest question of how a Trump nomination would affect November’s election in Utah is what happens down-ballot. While it’s not clear if those voters who said they wouldn’t vote would just skip marking the presidential ballot, or if they would stay home altogether.
A lower voter turnout could be an advantage for Democrats in some legislative races where they lost by a handful of votes or a few percentage points in 2014. That might be enough to tip the scales in those races.
Utah Republicans already understand how toxic Donald Trump could be for their candidates. They’ve launched an effort to shield Rep. Mia Love from any negative effects from a Trump nomination as she faces a tough re-election battle against Democrat Doug Owens.
Another problem for Utah Republicans could be the straight-ticket voting option. In Salt Lake County alone, nearly 85,000 straight-ticket ballots were cast in 2014, with 46% of those going to the Republican candidate. Statewide, there were nearly 194,000 straight-ticket ballots in 2014, with 63% going to the GOP. That’s an incredible built-in advantage for the Republicans that could vanish with Trump at the top of the ticket. At the very least it slightly erases an edge enjoyed by Republicans.
A previous UtahPolicy.com survey found that Bernie Sanders would straight-up beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup in November while Trump and Hillary Clinton would be tied with about a quarter of voters undecided.
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from March 23-April 5, 2016 among 600 adult Utahns with a margin of error of +/- 4.0%.