Every single group in our weekly "Political Insiders" survey expects Gov. Gary Herbert to triumph over challenger Jonathan Johnson in Tuesday's Republican primary.
Jonson, who has been officially running against Herbert since the 2015 Utah GOP Convention, has been trailing Herbert in independent polls by as many as 50-points. The most recent surveys of the race find Johnson making up that gap little-by-little. However, it may not be enough as our most recent survey found Herbert with a 38-point lead over Johnson.
Our "Political Insiders" expect that lead to propel Herbert to victory on Tuesday.
87% of the Republicans on our panel say Herbert will win, while just 13% pick Johnson.
Not surprisingly, all of the Democrats who responded to our poll picked Herbert over Johnson.
Our readers gave Johnson a little more of a chance. 68% in that group chose Herbert while 32% say Johnson will pull the upset on Tuesday.
Many of our commenters said Johnson's campaign against Herbert turned them off because of the negative tone. Others said the state's economic performance makes Utahns reluctant to make a change in the governor's office.
Another prevalent theme among our respondents was a big win by Herbert would show that convention delegates were much more extreme than rank-and-file Republican voters. Johnson defeated Herbert at the GOP convention in April by a 55-45% margin.
Selected anonymous comments:
"Johnson surprised me by doing as well as he did, but his anti-public school, ultra-Libertarian agenda does not appeal to most people."
"I agree with the direction Governor Herbert and his team are taking the state of Utah. I would like to see him have four more years to continue."
"Mr. Johnson's choice of running mate (Ms. Bagley) showed his true colors to me. With Parent's for Choice and an important financial contributor (Mr. Byrne, a supporter of private school vouchers) advising him, I would fail my own personal voter IQ test if I were to support J. J. (paraphrasing Mr. Byrne's description of Utah's electorate). I am a retired educator, thus my bias. I would be nuts to support Mr. Johnson. I could comment on Johnson's supporters and drinking one's bathwater...but I won't. Mr. Johnson's negative campaigning shows the desperate nature of the last few weeks of his campaign. He is behind in the polls. He can't spin it any other way. The fliers left on my doorstep are negative and offensive and again, reflect his desperation. Oh my heck! I can't wait for this primary season to be over. Next...comes November. Oh...@#$%&*?!"
"The odds don't look too good for Jonathan Johnson, but I'm sure that myself and many others would like to see him in office instead of Governor Herbert."
"I was undecided until Count My Vote's support for Herbert pushed me into Johnson's camp."
"It is tough to root out an incumbent especially if they have been doing a decent job."
"From what I've seen, the Governor has kept his campaign honest and clean, and I can't say that for Johnson, who has used every tactic available to mislead voters and malign the Governor. Utah is an example to the nation in fiscal conservatism in nearly every way. Why would I want a change?"
"We need a governor whose access is not a 'pay-to-play' proposition and who will actually manage Utah and Utah state government. Utah business and the drive of entrepreneurs has produced Utah's positive economic climate while multiple billboards reflect Herbert's taking the credit for their efforts. A seasoned staff who comes up with the idea of special interests paying for access to the governor and a seasoned governor actually implementing it is bewildering. These are the guys leading the state? After 7.5 years in office, this is what the plan is to re-elect the supposed number one governor in the country? This is not the leadership Utah deserves."
"This will hopefully prove once and for all that delegates are extreme and out of touch with mainstream Republicans."
"Winning the convention delegate vote might become the new 'kiss of death' of Utah politics. A sign that someone who appeals to the delegates is too extreme to the party at large."
"Voters will reward Herbert for the state's outstanding performance over the past eight years."
"JJ is having a hard time convincing the public that things aren't as good as they think they are when all they have to do is look around. Life is pretty good here in Utah."
"Thank goodness there are more sane people in Utah than the vocal crazies. That is good news for Herbert, who deserves four more years based on his record. We can only hope the margin is large enough that it will expose the convention/caucus system for what it is: a system designed to keep power in the hands of the far right."
"Herbert wins by 20 points, at least. Not really close. Election results will only add to the growing suspicion that the delegate system is out of whack and needs to reform itself or be thrust aside into the dustbin of history."
"Well, of course, it's Herbie. Utah voters (rather than delegates) are pretty down with name recognition and respect for current authorities. But I'm glad that someone gave him a run for his money. And lots of money, it is!"
"Jonathon is working hard, but it is too big a cliff for him to climb. It appears this is an all or nothing race for Jonathon. He is not campaigning as if he is preparing for 2020. He is burning too many bridges with his campaign style."
"Governor Herbert could have taken a vacation for the past month and still won. In fact, his margin of victory might have been bigger if he had."
"Gary is being judged on an overall record, which likely merits four more years. Johnson had one serious policy issue, which Herbert negated, namely Common Core."
"Herbert is Teflon. Nothing sticks to him."
"Johnson never had a chance. Utahns aren't in open rebellion against the establishment like Republicans are in many states."
"Gov. Herbert should easily win. The economy is great, and the quality of life in Utah is unsurpassed."