SALT LAKE CITY — How would a certain GOP senator who has sworn off running for president do against the current Republican occupant of the White House in a Utah primary election?
Sen. Mitt Romney would beat President Donald Trump hands down, according to a poll released Thursday.
OH Predictive Insights found Romney bests Trump 55 percent to 37 percent among likely Utah Republican voters in a hypothetical primary contest.
"Republican base voters around the country back President Trump survey after survey shows,” said Mike Noble, chief of research for Phoenix-based research company. "But Beehive State voters buck that trend, giving the state’s junior senator a wide margin of victory in a matchup.”
Of course, Utah is only one state, but one in which Romney is wildly popular. Utahns have considered him an adopted son since he ran the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics.
Trump, on the other hand, won Utah in 2016 with less than 50 percent of the vote and has yet to endear himself to Utahns since taking office.
Romney has stated multiple times that he won’t run for president a third time. The late Arizona Sen. John McCain beat him out for the 2008 Republican nomination. Four years later, Romney became the GOP nominee but lost to President Barack Obama in the general election.
"If he wants to take on President Trump in a primary, he can count on Utahns to have his back,” Noble said.
Romney’s support runs deep within the Republican primary voters, especially among those who consider themselves somewhat conservative. Romney wins those voters 56-34, the poll found.
Trump does better than Romney in one category: self-identified very conservative voters favor Trump 52-41. Romney’s anchor remains members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garnering a nearly 2-1 advantage against Trump, according to the survey.
OH Predictive Insights conducted the poll 76 percent online and 24 percent via live caller from March 15 to March 27. It sampled 275 likely Utah Republican voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.91 percentage points.
Romney's office declined to comment on the poll.
A UtahPolicy.com poll last fall found that a majority of Utahns don't believe Trump deserves a second term in office.
Asked if the president has "performed his job well enough that he should be re-elected" in 2020, 57 percent of likely Utah voters surveyed for the online political news source said it was time to give someone new a chance to serve.
On the day before being sworn into the Senate in January, Romney expressed his disappointment in Trump's leadership.
"But, on balance, (Trump’s) conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions (in December), is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Romney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
Though the two men have like minds on many policy issues, Romney isn’t shy criticizing Trump over comments he finds offensive.
Romney most recently chastised the president for disparaging McCain in a series of tweets.
Romney blasted Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign he called then-candidate Trump a "phony" and "fraud" in a scathing speech at the University of Utah. During his Senate campaign, he called out the president’s temperament and character.