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Trio of Governors Top Ranking of Utah Potential Statewide Candidates

Hatch, Henderson, other Congressmen also Make Top 10



PHOENIX (December 16, 2021)- While electoral headlines may be dominating the national news cycle as Joe Biden and Democrats appear to be headed for a troubling 2022 election cycle, Utahns have just under one year before deciding several influential elections in the Beehive State.


OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) is releasing its first-ever Utah Edition of its Power Rankings of popular (and sometimes unpopular) figures in the state, mirroring OHPI's Arizona Power Rankings and Nevada Power Rankings. Jon Huntsman, Jr.—the former Utah Governor and long-time diplomat—tops the inaugural list.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that Democrats have not been able to win statewide in Utah in decades, Republican politicos occupy each of the top 10 spots of the list of most popular (potential) candidates as 2022 approaches. The highest-ranking member of the Democratic party on the list—former Congressman Jim Matheson (No. 13)—and the highest-ranking non-Republican—Independent Evan McMullin (No. 12)—could not crack the upper third of the rankings.


A trio of Governors top the OHPI list: Jon Huntsman, Jr., Spencer Cox, and Gary Herbert would make the most formidable candidates in the state, due in large part to their high name ID and cross-party support.


Another interesting presence in the rankings is former six-term US Senator Orrin Hatch. Should the long-time GOP Senator decide to return to the fray of Utah politics, Hatch would likely still be an electoral powerhouse, coming in at No. 4 among Utah voters overall and No. 3 among Republicans.


Given the US Senate's 50-50 split, every Senate seat on the ballot in 2022 will have national consequences – Mike Lee's is no exception. According to the rankings, Mike Lee is in good shape to keep the seat in Republican hands at this point in the cycle. Lee comes in at No. 6 in the Power Rankings, buoyed by high marks among Republicans. Two of Lee's GOP primary challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, lag significantly behind due in large part to a relative lack of name ID. Lee's potential general election opponents do not perform much better than Edwards or Isom. Former Presidential candidate and Independent Evan McMullin ranks No. 12, while newly minted Democrat Steve Schmidt comes in at third from the bottom (No. 31).

nov 2021 utpop power rankings
"Many important federal and state offices will be on the ballot next year," says Mike Noble, OHPI Chief of Research. "With that in mind, it's advantageous to get a sense of potential candidates early. The OHPI Power Rankings do just that."

OHPI based its Power Rankings on a recent survey that asked voters their opinions of 33 individuals in Utah, also asking what voters look for in a statewide office candidate. Notably, the ranking does not consider an individual's likelihood to run for office – explaining the presence of Gary Herbert and Orrin Hatch.


Other than name ID and net favorability – which are common indicators of a candidate's electoral potential – OHPI has developed what they call a "Demographic and Experience (D/E) Score" to help rank those who are relatively unknown to the electorate. OHPI considered a potential candidate's political party, age, ethnicity, gender, state of birth, and several different elected offices they may have held among a number of other characteristics when assigning this score. For a more detailed explanation of how this score is calculated, please see our blog article on the topic.

nov 2021 utpop dem exp score

Notice there is little overlap between the candidates on the "OHPI Power Top 10" list, which emphasizes a potential candidate's Name ID and favorability, and the "D/E Score Top 10," which ignores those measures entirely. Candidates who rank higher on the D/E score than low on the Power Ranking (e.g., Ally Isom and Kirk Cullimore) have the potential to make strong gubernatorial or senatorial candidates if they have the funds to boost their Name ID and keep a positive image among voters.

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Methodology: This poll was conducted as an online opt-in panel survey. The survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights from November 5–15, 2021, from a Utah Statewide Registered Voter sample. The sample demographics were weighted to accurately reflect gender, region, age, party affiliation, ethnicity, and education based on statistics from the Utah Lt. Governor's Office as well as recent Census data. The sample size was 671 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 3.8%. Numbers may not equal 100% due to rounding.

OHPI Power Score: This score considers name ID, net favorability, and OHPI's Demographic and Experience score but puts a greater emphasis on name ID and net favorability than the other measure.

Demographic and Experience Score: This score assigns potential candidates points based on how well their personal characteristics match voters' preferences. For example, if 38% of voters preferred a candidate who is a Democrat, the Democrats on the list got 38% of a point. If 37% preferred a male, males got 37% of a point – and so on. The following characteristics compose this score: party, political experience, birth state, county of residence/representation, experience as a US Senator, experience as a US Congressman, experience as a Governor, experience as a statewide officeholder, experience as a Utah State Senator, experience as a Utah State Assemblyman/woman, electoral record, gender, age, racial/ethnic minority status, and parental status. Party, age, and gender play a larger share in these rankings than the other characteristics. Click to learn more about D/E Scores.


Media Contact:

Veronica Sutliff, Noble Predictive Insights, v.sutliff@npredictive.com, (602) 390-5248


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.

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