The 2020 gubernatorial race is still a long way off, but a new UtahPolicy.com survey suggests Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Fox News commentator Jason Chaffetz are the frontrunners for he GOP nomination.
One in four Utah voters are still undecided, which is to be expected 22 months out from the election, but among those who have a preference, Cox is the leader, followed by Chaffetz and an unnamed Democratic nominee. Every other possible candidate we included on our list was in the single digits.
These results suggest the other potential candidates in the race have some serious work to do if they plan to make a run in 2020.
- Former House Speaker Greg Hughes only pulled 1% in the survey. Hughes brokered a high-profile compromise on medical marijuana involving the LDS Church and Prop. 2 backers.
- Attorney General Sean Reyes, who has been rumored to be mulling a run for governor for quite some time, gets 5% support.
- Rep. Rob Bishop, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this term, gets 7% support. Bishop did some polling last year during the 2018 midterm elections to test the waters for a potential campaign. Bishop is also reportedly under consideration to be the next Secretary of the Interior under President Donald Trump.
- Salt Lake County Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton is being encouraged by some Republicans to run in 2020. She gets 2% support.
- Businessman Greg Miller is reportedly readying a run for governor is at 2% in our survey.
- State Auditor John Dougall, who reportedly is eyeing a run, was at 0%.
Republicans in our poll were nearly equally divided between Cox and Chaffetz, with 29% picking Cox as their 2020 choice and 28% going for Chaffetz. 10% of Republicans said they supported Rep. Rob Bishop. 23% of Republicans said they didn’t know.
Democrats are solidly behind whoever their nominee will be, with 52% saying they will vote for their party’s choice when it becomes known. Surprisingly, Cox gets 17% support from Democrats. That suggests if Cox is the GOP nominee, he’ll be able to pull votes from Democrats and Republicans, which will make him difficult to beat in two years.
21% of independent voters say they would pick Cox if the election were today. 9% said they would either pick Chaffetz or an unnamed Democrat. 37% were undecided.
Chaffetz, who is a frequent guest on Fox News since he unexpectedly resigned from Congress after winning another term, finds a big block of support among Utah voters who describe themselves as “very conservative.” 42% of that group say Chaffetz would get their vote if the election were today. 18% in that group would go for Cox, while 23% are undecided.
Cox picks up a surprising amount of support from moderate and liberal voters. Cox made headlines in 2016 when he made a speech apologizing to the LGBT community following the massacre at an Orlando gay bar.
- 31% of “somewhat conservative” Utahns said they would vote for Cox. 20% of this group would vote for Chaffetz, while 10% said they would pick the Democratic candidate. 24% said they don’t know.
- 28% of moderates prefer Cox. 11% said they would cast a ballot for the Democrat, while 32% of this group said they are undecided.
- Nearly half of “somewhat liberal” Utahns (43%) said they would vote for the Democrat in the race. 18% said they would support Cox, while 21% are undecided.
- 46% of “very liberal” voters told us they would vote for the Democratic candidate, but Cox still gets support from nearly one in five in this group (18%).
The survey was taken before Provo businessman Jeff Burningham announced he was exploring a gubernatorial bid in 2020.
Poll by conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from January 3 - 15, 2019. 822 Registered voters were interviewed. Data collection was conducted by live call center agents (42 percent landline telephone, 32 percent cellphone), and a portion of the survey was conducted via email invite from an online panel (26 percent). The margin of error for the statewide questions is +/- 3.4 percent.