If either Jonathan Johnson or Michael Weinholtz want to unseat Governor Gary Herbert this year, they need to build their name recognition, and quickly.
A new UtahPolicy.com survey finds Gov. Herbert is still enjoying high approval ratings from Utahns while Johnson and Weinholtz are still relatively unknown.
67% of Utahns say they have a favorable opinion of Herbert while just 24% say their opinion of the governor is unfavorable.
That’s going to be a difficult hurdle for Johnson and Weinholtz to overcome if they hope to defeat Herbert.
Johnson is viewed favorably by just 22% of Utahns while 17% have an unfavorable opinion of him. 15% say they’ve heard of him but have no opinion. 40% of Utahns said they’ve never heard of Johnson. Not exactly the way you mount a campaign to unseat a relatively popular sitting governor.
The number of Utahns who say they’ve never heard of Johnson is quite surprising since he’s been actively running for governor since last July. Johnson’s campaign since that time focused mainly on wooing delegates to the GOP convention. That tactic paid off for him as he defeated Herbert at the convention 55-45%. That result only ensured Johnson of a primary election matchup with Herbert about a month from now.
However, Johnson has done little to build his name ID with the larger universe of Utah voters after the convention win, which is reflected in the number of respondents who had not heard of him.
Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz is even worse off than Johnson. Only 10% of Utahns had a favorable opinion of him while 7% said unfavorable. A whopping 66% had never heard of him, while 16% knew who he was, but had not yet formed an opinion.
Herbert’s numbers are relatively unchanged from last April when 71% of Utahns had a favorable view of him with 21% unfavorable.
While not a direct correlation, Herbert’s job approval rating in January of this year was 77%, with 18% disapproving.
All of that means Johnson has a tough task ahead of him if he wants to beat Herbert in June. That primary election is only open to Republican voters, but the survey finds Republicans also have a much higher opinion of Herbert than Johnson.
82% of Republicans in our survey said they had a favorable opinion of Herbert, with 47% saying that opinion was “very favorable.” Only 8% of Republicans had an unfavorable view of Herbert.
Johnson’s numbers among Republicans are not that encouraging. 28% have a favorable opinion of him while 16% say unfavorable. 36% say they’ve never heard of him while 15% stated that they know who Johnson is, but have no opinion of him.
Clearly, Johnson needs to boost his name recognition among Republican voters if he’s going to have a chance of defeating Herbert. That looks like a long shot as a recent UtahPolicy.com survey of the race found that 71% of Republican voters would vote for Herbert while 19% would vote for Johnson.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted May 2-10, 2016 among 588 registered Utah voters with a margin of error +/- 4.04%.