Poll: Republican Primary Voters Don’t Care Much About SB54

button2The fight over SB54, which allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures, is getting a collective yawn from Republican voters.

A new UtahPolicy.com survey finds likely Republican voters really don’t care that Gov. Gary Herbert used the new signature-gathering route to secure his spot on the primary ballot. They also are nonplussed by challenger Jonathan Johnson’s vow to repeal the law if he is elected governor.
63% of likely GOP voters in our survey said that Herbert using both the signature-gathering route and caucus/convention system as a path to the primary ballot would not influence how they voted in the upcoming primary. 19% said it would make them more likely to vote for him, while 17% said it would make them less likely to support him in next week’s election.
Johnson’s pledge to kill the legislative compromise reached with count my vote also looks to have no bearing on his chances against Herbert. 45% of likely Republican voters said his vow would not influence how they cast a ballot. 30% said it would make them less likely to vote for him, while 21% stated that they would be more apt to support him because of it.

Herbert paid a professional signature-gathering firm to secure the 28,000 statewide signatures, which automatically put him on the primary ballot. He also went through the traditional caucus/convention system but lost the convention vote to Johnson 55-45%. That convention loss would have still pushed Herbert to a primary election against Johnson even if he had not gathered signatures.
Johnson initially said he would also use both the signature-gathering and delegate/convention route to get to a primary, but later said he would only use the delegate path and repeatedly attacked Herbert for gathering signatures. 
Both men have repeatedly pledged their fealty to the convention system throughout the campaign. During their only face-to-face debate before the convention, Johnson challenged Herbert to drop his signatures. Obviously, Herbert declined.
The signature route is despised by most GOP delegates who rightfully view it as a threat to their power in influencing the nominating process.  Johnson clearly was hoping it would be a wedge issue that he could exploit to his advantage. That strategy predictably worked with the delegates, but it’s not having much if any effect on the primary race which is open to all registered Republicans.
A UtahPolicy.com survey on Monday gave Herbert a 38-point lead over Johnson among likely Republican primary voters. 
Republicans generally also don’t care enough about SB54 for it to influence their vote. 63% of all Utah Republicans, not just likely voters said Herbert’s decision to utilize both routes to the ballot makes no difference to them how they would vote. Just 13% said that choice made them less likely to vote for Herbert while 21% are more likely.
In the same vein, all Utah Republicans basically don’t care that Johnson wants to kill SB54. 49% said his vow made no difference to them. 17% said it made them more likely to vote for Johnson, and 29% were less likely.
The only group that really seems to care about SB54 enough that it will make a difference in how they vote are Utahns who are members of the Tea Party. That makes sense, as it was the Tea Party who successfully exploited the convention system to defeat Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010, which led to the election of Sen. Mike Lee. 45% of Utahns who said they are Tea Party members responded that Johnson’s pledge to get rid of the signature route makes them more likely to vote for him. At the same time, Herbert’s utilization of both routes to get to the primary election caused about a third of Tea Partiers (36%) to say it makes them less likely to vote for him.