POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Poll: Rep. Curtis has sizable lead in Utah Senate primary, but a third of GOP voters still undecided

Jun 10, 2024, 5:42 PM | Updated: 5:56 pm

Rusty Cannon, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, moderates a discussion with United State...

Rusty Cannon, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, moderates a discussion with United States Senate candidates John Curtis, Brad Wilson, Jason Walton and Trent Staggs at the Utah Taxpayers Association Annual Taxes Now Conference at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 10, 2024. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In the Utah Republican primary to replace Sen. Mitt Romney, a new poll shows Congressman John Curtis is ahead of the next closest candidate, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, by 18 percentage points. But, a third of likely Utah Republican voters still say they’re undecided, even as ballots have already hit mailboxes across the state.

A new poll conducted by HarrisX for the Deseret News and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics shows Curtis ahead with 34% support among registered Republican voters, while Staggs has 16%, former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson has 12%, and Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton is at 4%. Another 33% of voters said they were unsure.

Among likely GOP primary voters, the split was 36% for Curtis, 18% for Staggs, 13% for Wilson and 5% for Walton.

When undecided voters were asked which way they were leaning, Curtis’ lead increased to 47%, while Wilson moved into second place with 24%. Staggs’ support moved to 21%, and Walton to 8%.

Incumbent Republicans forced into primaries in drawn-out GOP state convention

Curtis was up in most demographic categories including self-described conservatives and likely Donald Trump voters, even though Staggs received Trump’s endorsement.

The poll was conducted by HarrisX among 469 likely Utah Republican voters, including those who had already voted, from June 4-7, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Perry: Curtis is capturing moderate GOP voters

Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute, said with so many candidates on the ballot, including candidates who voters don’t know as well, people become less certain about who they’re going to vote for.

“These candidates are still trying to make their cases to the voters,” Perry said. “They’re running more commercials, they’re trying to build their name ID, but it’s a hard road when people don’t know you very well.”

Results of the question; “If the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Utah were held today, who would you vote for?”, by Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute.

On Curtis’ frontrunner status, Perry said Curtis has high name ID as a congressman, is “well-liked, and a lot of money has flowed to his campaign from PACs.”

“And he has targeted that moderate section of the Republican Party in Utah, and that’s where most of the people are,” he said.

Campaigns respond

In response to the poll results, Corey Norman, Curtis’ chief of staff, said Curtis has “consistently demonstrated his dedication to earning the support of Utah voters.”

“These latest poll numbers again confirm that Utahns resonate with John’s conservative message which emphasizes his commitment to standing up for Utah values,” he continued in a statement to the Deseret News. “We are energized to continue our effort and ensure that Utahns hear directly from John about his plans as their next Senator.”

Staggs said he “couldn’t be more grateful for the Utah grassroots.”

“We may not have the backing of climate change billionaires, but we do [have] the moms and dad’s worried about their children’s future,” he continued. “This election isn’t about who will fit in best in Washington. It is about who will disrupt Washington and fight to make meaningful change. Voters are hungry for America First, that’s who I am.”

Wilson’s campaign spokesperson, Gabby Wiggins, said, “There’s a reason why Brad Wilson has the strongest grassroots support and the most in-state endorsements: because Utahns know he’ll bring real change to DC and fight for the Utah Way. We appreciate everyone’s support as we look forward to the primary.”

Walton responded to news of the poll by saying, “The only poll that matters is the one the voters take when they cast their ballot.”

“I’m the only Republican political outsider running in this race. My Republican opponents have been politicking for more than 40 years combined. If voters want a career politician, they should pick one of the other three, but if they want a Senator who will who will tackle runaway inflation, then I’m their guy,” he said.

Debate broadcast Monday night

A Utah GOP primary debate for the Senate candidates will take place on Monday at 6 p.m., hosted by the Utah Debate Commission. All four candidates have said they will participate.

The debate will be held at the PBS studio on the University of Utah campus, and will be carried by the commission’s media partners, including KSL TV. It will also stream on the commission’s Facebook page. Recordings will be available on the commission’s website after the event.

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Poll: Rep. Curtis has sizable lead in Utah Senate primary, but a third of GOP voters still undecided