The good news for Rep. Chris Stewart? He currently enjoys an 11-point lead over Democrat Shireen Ghorbani. The bad news? Stewart is now under 50%, which is not where an incumbent wants to be with less than two months to go before election day.
The newest UtahPolicy.com survey finds Stewart leading Ghorbani 45-34%. Libertarian candidate Jeffrey Whipple gets 5%. 16% are undecided.
Stewart's 45% is at least 15% below his usual election performance from his last three races. In 2016, Stewart won with 62% of the vote. In 2014, Stewart received 61%, and he got 62% in 2012.
Digging into the numbers, there may be a few reasons Stewart may be off his normal electoral pace this year. Even though he enjoys a significant lead over Ghorbani among male voters (48-27%), the two are virtually tied with women voters where Stewart has a slight edge 43-41%. Stewart has been one of the most ardent defenders of President Trump, but women voters in Utah have consistently given Trump poor approval ratings. Women may be punishing Stewart for standing so close to Trump.
Stewart is also underwater among independent voters. Ghorbani holds a slight lead among that group at 39-37%.
UtahPolicy.com's survey queried likely voters to get these results. In Utah, as well as many other areas in the U.S., Democrats are much more fired up to vote. In our most recent poll, 74% of Utah Democrats said they were very interested in the 2018 midterm election while only 52% of Republicans felt that way. That partisan divide would have much more of an impact this year if registered Republicans didn't outnumber registered Democrats in Utah by a 5-1 margin.
Even though Stewart is under 50%, there are several indicators that he likely won't be vulnerable in November. Ghorbani is only at 34% support, which is nearly identical to the last three Democrats to face off against Stewart.
According to the UtahPolicy.com survey, Stewart is only getting 70% support from Republican voters, which is low for the three-term congressman. If the 17% of GOP voters who are still undecided come home to Stewart's column, he'll win by a comfortable margin.
Stewart's base of support clearly comes from the right side of the political spectrum, while Ghorbani wins support from moderates and liberal voters.
- 75% of self-described "very conservative" Utahns support Stewart
- 71% of "somewhat conservative" voters back Stewart.
- Moderates break slightly for Ghorbani, 35-31%
- Utahns who say they are "somewhat" or "very liberal" prefer Ghorbani over Stewart by wide margins.
The results are similar to the recently released Utah Debate Commission survey which had Stewart at 49% and Ghorbani at 26.8%. Whipple was in third place at 5.2%.
Ghorbani doesn't have much in the way of resources if she's hoping to narrow the gap with Curtis before election day. The most recent FEC filings show Stewart with more than $245,000 in campaign cash on hand, while Ghorbani has just $65,000, a nearly 4-1 gap.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted August 22-31 among 202 likely voters in Utah's 2nd Congressional District with a margin of error of 6.9%