Either GOP Gov. Gary Herbert or Republican Jonathan Johnson would beat Democrat Michael Weinholtz in a final gubernatorial election, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.
Herbert and Johnson face each other in a June 28 GOP primary to decide who wears the Republican banner in the final November governor’s election.
The just-completed Dan Jones & Associates survey shows that Republicans still dominate the preference for who should lead Utah state government.
In a November general election, a Herbert/Weinholtz match-up finds Herbert with 66 percent support, Weinholtz with 21 percent support, and 12 percent undecided.
If it were Johnson against Weinholtz, Jones finds Johnson with 44 percent support, the Democrat with 27 percent support, and 29 percent are undecided.
Weinholtz won the Democrat gubernatorial nomination in last month’s minority party delegate convention and so doesn’t have a primary opponent.
The new poll confirms what has been the case in Utah governors’ races for decades: Whoever wins the Republican nomination wins the final election and gets a four-year term as state chief executive.
The last Democrat to win the governor’s seat was the late Scott M. Matheson in 1980.
The Republican/Democratic match-up also confirms a new poll finding, seen here, in which Herbert tops Johnson in the GOP primary: That is that Johnson is not well-known among all Utah voters, even among members of his own Republican Party.
Herbert gets two-thirds of the Utah vote against Weinholtz, with 12 percent undecided.
Johnson gets only 44 percent of the ballot, with 29 percent undecided.
However, whether GOP voters pick Herbert or Johnson as their nominee, the Republican will likely win this November.
Here are some demographic breakdowns:
Herbert wins among Republicans, 88 percent to 5 percent for Weinholtz, with only 7 percent undecided.
Weinholtz wins among Democrats, 62-26 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
But Herbert would still get a quarter of the Democratic vote – impressive.
That shows Weinholtz has work to do among his own party members.
Herbert wins among politically independent voters, 51-32 percent, with 17 percent undecided.
Johnson, chairman of Overstock.com, an online discount retailer, also does well against Weinholtz.
Johnson among Republicans would get 65 percent of the vote to Weinholtz’s 11 percent, with 25 percent undecided.
Among Democrats, Weinholtz tops Johnson, 81-5 percent, with 15 percent undecided.
Among independents, Weinholtz nudges out Johnson, 32-30 percent, with 38 percent undecided.
That is a large undecided number among independents.
But history has shown that for a Democrat to win a major race in Utah, he or she has to carry 60 percent or more of the independent vote, a tough number to reach.
Jones polled 588 adults between May 2-10. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.04 percent statewide.
For the above demographic breakouts, the margin of error among GOP respondents is plus or minus 5.81 percent; Democrats, 11.02 percent; and political independents, 7.39 percent.
The differences are, of course, because there are more Republicans and independents among the overall 588 sample than there are Democrats, matching the make-up of Utah citizens at large.