Mitt Romney has a commanding lead over State Rep. Mike Kennedy among likely Republican primary voters according to a new UtahPolicy.com survey.
Romney outpaces Kennedy by more than a 2.5-to-1 margin in our survey, with 67% of Utah Republicans saying they plan to vote for Romney in the June primary election, while just 24% say they will vote for Kennedy. 9% are undecided.
Among undecided voters, 27% say they "lean" toward voting for Kennedy, while 22% say they are leaning toward Romney.
Kennedy narrowly bested Romney at the April GOP convention to force him into a primary.
If the results hold, it will be another kick in the teeth for Republican delegates, who endorsed the eventual primary loser twice previously. In 2016, GOP delegates gave Jonathan Johnson the convention victory over Gov. Gary Herbert. Herbert went on to handily defeat Johnson in the GOP primary. Last year, GOP delegates in the 3rd CD endorsed former State Rep. Chris Herrod at the special convention. Then-mayor John Curtis won the GOP primary even though he was knocked out early in the convention vote.
Kennedy recently courted controversy by calling Baptist minister Robert Jeffress and apologizing for Mitt Romney calling him a "religious bigot." Jeffress, who has referred to Mormonism as a "heresy from the pit of hell," claimed Kennedy apologized on behalf of all Utahns, which was eventually shown to be not true.
While our survey was conducted during the time the Jeffress kerfuffle occurred, it's not apparent whether that hurt Kennedy. It clearly didn't do him any favors.
Romney holds a significant lead over Kennedy across most demographic categories:
- Men favor Romney 62-31%
- Women go big for Romney 71-16%
- "Very active" LDS Republicans prefer Romney 71-20%
- "Somewhat active" Mormons pick Romney 70-23%
- "Not active" Mormons say they like Romney over Kennedy 59-35%.
- Romney leads among Catholics 52-36%
- Protestant Republicans narrowly prefer Romney 52-48%.
Romney is also the choice across every age demographic we polled.
- Voters between 18-24 picked Romney 63-21%
- 25-34-year-olds said they plan to vote for Romney over Kennedy 64-22%.
- Romney wins among those 35-44 by a 76-16% margin.
- Romney gets support from 59% of GOP voters between 45-54, while Kennedy receives 27% support.
- Romney comes out on top among those 55-64 with 65%. Kennedy gets 27%.
- GOP voters 65 and older support Romney 68-26%.
Kennedy's campaign disputed the accuracy of the poll numbers, claiming it is too early in the race to accurately gauge public support.
"We just kicked off an aggressive ground, mail, and TV campaign this past week," said a Kennedy campaign spokesperson in an email statement. "With a TV debate approaching early next week, I'm confident that when Utahns know there's a viable and conservative alternative, these numbers will be different, just like they were at the convention."
Romney's campaign declined to comment for this story.
The Dan Jones and Associates survey was conducted May 15-25, 2018 among 295 likely GOP primary voters with a margin of error 5.7%.