Even though Jonathan Johnson has been officially in the race for Utah governor since the summer of 2015, he is having a tough time gaining traction among Utah voters.
UtahPolicy.com has polled Herbert vs. Johnson three times since Johnson made his official campaign announcement at the 2015 State GOP Convention. In all three of those surveys, the numbers have been remarkably consistent. All three surveys have shown very strong support for Herbert over Johnson.
The first survey from September 2015 asked who Utahns would like to see win the GOP nomination for governor. 59% of all residents said Herbert and 15% said Johnson. Among Republicans, the divide between the two was even more pronounced, with Herbert leading Johnson 74-11%. That poll was not surprising as Johnson was a new entrant into the race and did not have the same level of name ID as a two-term governor.
The next head-to-head survey was in April. We asked who Utahns would vote for in the primary. Surprisingly, the numbers had not moved much, if at all. Herbert led Johnson 58-20% among all Utahns and 72-13 among Republicans. Johnson’s campaign vigorously pushed back against those numbers, claiming they were irrelevant since they were focusing their efforts on delegates to the Republican State Convention.
Johnson ended up winning the delegate vote at the convention by a 55-45% margin, which sent him to a primary election against Herbert in June.
Again, Johnson’s campaign has come back hard against this latest round of polling, claiming the results are “beyond rational comprehension.” They also insinuate that since Dan Jones & Associates also does polling for Gov. Herbert’s campaign, he somehow has his thumb on the scales. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Jones has been Utah’s premier pollster for decades. UtahPolicy commissioned these independent polls, and they were conducted without any input or interference from the Herbert campaign.
To be fair, Johnson’s support among Republican voters has grown slightly since September as he’s gained 8-points in that time. During the same period, Herbert’s support has dropped two points. At that rate, one percentage point per month, Johnson should overtake Herbert among Republicans sometime in 2019.
As of this writing, there are 47 days until the June primary election. Clearly Johnson has quite a bit of work to do to overtake Herbert.