Nikki Haley is the biggest riser for the second month in a row in a new poll of Utah Republican voters, entering a statistical tie in second place with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows former President Donald Trump with a comfortable lead, maintaining his position as Utah Republicans’ top option for the fifth straight month. But DeSantis, who led Trump by double-digits earlier this year, has now sunk to the mid-teens and is tied with Haley.

The poll, which included 509 registered Republican voters in Utah, asked respondents, “If the 2024 Republican Presidential primary were held today, who would you vote for?” Among respondents, 30% said Trump, 14% said DeSantis and 13% said Haley.

Mike Pence, who dropped out of the race last week, was the choice of 5% of respondents. The poll was conducted between Oct. 12 and 23.

Other candidates included Vivek Ramaswamy (4%), Chris Christie (3%) and Tim Scott (1%).

“Without question, based on our polling and what we see nationwide, Nikki Haley has been inching up in the number of voters who say that they would choose her,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

A significant portion of Utah voters are still undecided. One-fifth of Utah Republicans say they “don’t know” who they’ll support, an increase from six months ago. “That’s the number that you should be looking at, right there,” Perry said.

While Trump now maintains a double-digit lead over his closest challenger, Utah continues to be the most competitive red state with available polling from the last six months, according to aggregate data from FiveThirtyEight. In national polls, Trump leads his competitors by over 40 percentage points.

Several of Trump’s most prominent supporters during his 2016 and 2020 campaigns in Utah have since thrown their support behind other candidates. Don Peay chaired “Utahns for Trump” in 2016, but now believes Trump can’t win the presidency in 2024. Greg Hughes, the former Utah House speaker, endorsed Trump early in 2016 and was reportedly considered for a position in Trump’s cabinet; this cycle, he’s donated to Ramaswamy’s campaign.

“I’ve gravitated to candidates who I think will be fighters,” Hughes said. “Vivek is a fighter. I want to see a good, competitive primary.”

Hughes is quick to note that he would still consider voting for Trump, but the primary “shouldn’t be a walkthrough and it shouldn’t be a coronation.”

Peay, on the other hand, has soured on Trump. “He could show some humility and try and bring some moderate Republicans back into the fold, which I have not seen any attempt to do so,” Peay said.

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“I think there will be an alternative to President Trump, and at this point, I think that will be former Gov. Nikki Haley,” Peay continued. “DeSantis made some terrible strategic and fatal errors early on, and he has not been able to right the ship.”

The South Lawn of the White House is pictured before an event Wednesday, April 26, 2023, in Washington. | Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

The latest polls shows DeSantis’ continued downward slide. In early polls last December, DeSantis maintained an 11-percentage-point lead above Trump in Utah, but Trump caught up by the April poll, when both candidates tied at 28%. Since then, DeSantis has seen his numbers fall from 24% in July to 19% in August to 15% in September. Last month, his decrease fell within the poll’s margin of error; now, DeSantis’ five-point skid since August is a clear downward spiral.

Among self-described “very conservative” voters, Trump is the runaway favorite, with 46% of respondents saying they would vote for him. DeSantis garners 21% of that group, while Haley and Ramaswamy are tied at 7%.

Among moderate voters, Haley gets 25%, Trump 10% and DeSantis 4%.

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