Utah Voters – Especially Republicans – Ready for Romney Retirement
PHOENIX (August 17, 2023)- As anticipation builds around Utah's 2024 Senate race, recent Utah Public Opinion Pulse (UTPOP) polling data illuminates the shifting tides in the state's political landscape. Noble Predictive Insights’ (NPI) UTPOP poll captured Utah voter sentiment that offers insights into potential contenders and the challenges they may face on the road to the Senate.
This UTPOP was conducted from July 7th–18th, 2023. The survey sample was 598 Utah registered voters with a margin of error of ± 4.0%. Among the 598 voters surveyed, 301 were Utah registered Republicans, yielding a margin of error of ± 5.65% with this group.
Utah 2024 GOP Senate Primary
The poll asked Utah Republicans two separate scenarios: a horse race with Romney in the field, and a horse race without Romney. A race without Romney is wide open. Sean Reyes (16%) is the only potential candidate that breaks double-digits, and more than half of voters remain undecided (55%).
With Romney running, that is where the race gets interesting...
The data shows some potential complexity in the dynamics of a potential Republican primary in Utah’s U.S. Senate race. Senator Romney holds a lead within a hypothetical 7-candidate field, securing 30% of the Republican electorate. Sean Reyes emerges as the only other candidate with double-digit support at 13%. However, the pivotal factor is the 39% of undecided Republican voters – a sizable bloc capable of propelling any candidate to the nomination if they coalesced around one person.
An interesting aspect of the primary battle is the close competition between Senator Romney and Sean Reyes among Trump-First Republicans: They remain neck-and-neck with 17% and 18% support, respectively. Romney maintains an advantage among:
· Party Loyalists (33% / 12%)
· Moderates (42% / 7%)
· SW Conservative (31% / 10%)
· Suburban (35% / 14%)
· Salt Lake County (43% / 16%)
· Republicans who don’t like the Party OR Trump (53% / 8%)
Reyes’ support is driven by:
· Very Conservative (22% / 21%)
· Rural (17% / 11%)
· Trump-First (18% / 17%)
“We’ve seen how far a Trump endorsement can carry a GOP candidate in a primary over the last few years, and if Trump decides to weigh in on this race, it could doom Romney’s re-run,” said Mike Noble, NPI Founder & CEO. “Silver lining for Romney: his hands aren’t completely tied. A saving grace for him might be a crowded field.”
Potential Candidate Perceptions
When looking at voters’ favorability of a potential candidate, Romney coasts with a net -1 favorability – comfortable considering he has the highest name ID by far (92%) compared to his potential competition – while Reyes enjoys a net +6 favorability with a 66% name ID. What is interesting to note is these candidates’ favorabilities among the large share of voters who have yet to throw their support behind any name in a GOP Senate Primary. Reyes greatly outperforms with a net +20 favorability among these undecided voters. However, Romney faces yet another challenge with a net -49 favorability with this key group.
"Looking at favorability – particularly among those undecideds – is telling in this race because that persuadable undecided group is a plurality of GOP voters right now,” said Mike Noble. “They haven’t chosen a candidate yet, but they really like Reyes and really really dislike Romney, and people are typically going to vote for who they like best," said Mike Noble.
As Utah voters await a decision from Romney on whether he will throw his hat in the ring, the data suggests that his path might be more manageable if he overcomes a challenging primary. Overall, Utah voters – especially Republicans – do not want to see a Romney re-run. The challenge Senator Romney could face within his own party is evident, with over half of GOP voters opposing a re-election bid and only one-third in support. However, strong pluralities of both Democrats (47%) and Independents (45%) express a willingness to see him run again, hinting at potential broader support in a general election.
“A path to victory for Romney could slightly clear up if he makes it through a GOP Primary. The question is, will Republicans who are not a fan of Romney stay home or worse, cross the aisle?” said Noble. “If Romney is not in the race, the focus will all be on the outcome of the GOP Primary and it'll get significantly less interesting in the General Election.”
Methodology: This poll was conducted as an online opt-in panel survey. The survey was completed by Noble Predictive Insights from July 7th–18th, 2023 from a Utah Statewide Registered Voter sample. The sample demographics were weighted to accurately reflect gender, region, age, party affiliation, ethnicity, and education. The sample size was 598 completed surveys, with a margin of error of ± 4.0%. Among the 598 voters surveyed, 301 were Utah registered Republicans, yielding a margin of error of ± 5.65% with this group. Numbers may not equal 100% due to rounding.
About Noble Predictive Insights: As a nonpartisan public opinion polling, market research, and data analytics firm, Noble Predictive Insights exists to elevate the world around us by empowering decision-makers with digestible data and actionable insights that translate to data-based solutions. We bridge the gap between research and strategy with customized strategic research, a hyper-focus on impact, and being true partners with our clients. Noble Predictive Insights (formerly O.H. Predictive Insights) is a 2023 Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company in the Southwest region, and is ranked in the top 15 most accurate pollsters as well as in the top 5 for lowest average bias in the 2021-22 election cycle by FiveThirtyEight. For more information, please call (602) 326-5694 or visit our website at www.noblepredictiveinsights.com.