Herbert Appears Headed for a Big Primary Victory Over Johnson, Democratic Senate Contest is a Toss-Up

Gary Herbert Jonathan Johnson 02The bad news just keeps coming for Jonathan Johnson. Gov. Gary Herbert appears poised to cruise to a victory in Tuesday’s primary election.

A new UtahPolicy.com survey finds Herbert with a commanding 38-point lead over challenger Jonathan Johnson among likely Republican Primary voters.
Dan Jones & Associates surveyed 614 registered Utah voters from June 8-17, 2016. Respondents were asked in which primary election they were planning on voting. 291 respondents told us they were very likely to cast a ballot in the closed GOP primary on June 28. Among those likely voters, Jones found that 66% said they were going to cast a ballot for Herbert while just 28% would vote for Johnson. That number includes a whopping 50% who said they would “definitely” vote for Herbert.
Johnson is starting to gain a little ground on Herbert. A May UtahPolicy.com survey found Herbert with a 74-19% lead over Johnson has cut into that 55-point lead a bit, but there’s not enough time ahead of next week’s primary for him to close the gap. A Salt Lake Tribune survey from earlier in June found Herbert with a 45-point lead over Johnson. 
All of that points to Herbert winning the GOP nomination next week with little resistance from Johnson.

Johnson attempted to stake out a position to Herbert’s political right, attacking the incumbent on educational policies – notably Common Core and SAGE testing. That earned him a win over Herbert at the GOP state convention in April by a 55-45% margin. However, Johnson just has not gained traction among GOP voters since then.
Among all Republicans in our survey, Herbert leads by a similar margin, 68-24%. 
Johnson’s play to appeal to the more conservative elements of the Utah GOP has not worked for him.
  • “Very conservative” Utahns break for Herbert 61-33%
  • Those who describe themselves as “somewhat conservative” favor Herbert 66-26%.
  • Moderates prefer Herbert 58-23%.
Herbert’s campaign spokesperson, Marty Carpenter, hailed the new numbers.
“It’s another strong poll for the governor, showing the people of Utah want him to serve a second four-year term,” said Carpenter in a statement provided to UtahPolicy.com. “Of course, what matters most is that people actually mail in their ballots or go to the polls, so we are encouraging all Republicans to just that.”
Johnson’s campaign did not choose to comment on the poll numbers when given the opportunity.
Johnson has lashed out at Herbert for not debating him before the election. Given Herbert’s high polling numbers, it’s not surprising he did not agree to one debate, much less the six Johnson was angling for. There’s simply no reason for Herbert to appear with him on the same stage as he didn’t much to gain.
While the election is not over, Johnson’s best chance at upsetting Herbert is if there is low turnout overall, but high turnout among his base voters. These polling results suggest that is not likely to happen.
The other major primary election next week is the Democratic U.S. Senate contest between Jonathan Swinton and Misty Snow. That race is still a pure toss-up as neither candidate has gained much ground. 65% of all Utahns say they don’t have a preference in that contest. 19% picked Snow, and 17% said Swinton.
The Democratic primary is open, meaning any registered voter in Utah can participate. Among those Utahns who told us they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary, Snow holds a 37-24% lead.

Voting is already underway in the primary as mail-in ballots started hitting mailboxes earlier this month. 
The survey by Dan Jones & Associates was conducted June 8-17, 2016 among 614 Utah voters. The margin of error was +/- 3.95%. Among Republicans only, the margin was +/- 5.74%. When Democrats were only considered, the margin was +/- 9.02%.