Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are now running even among Utah Republican voters, according to a new poll.

Among all voters, nearly 21% would choose Trump to be the 2024 Republican nominee in the primary, according to the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. DeSantis is two points behind, with 19% support.

Among registered Republican voters, the two men are tied at 28% each. That’s a big shift from last month’s poll, when DeSantis was ahead of Trump 31% to 23% with GOP voters.

Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is the only other potential candidate polling in the double-digits, at 11% among all respondents.

Trailing behind her are former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 8%, former Vice President Mike Pence, 6%, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 4%.

Nearly one-fifth of voters said they didn’t know and 9% said they preferred another candidate.

Dan Jones & Associates surveyed 800 registered Utah voters from April 25-28 and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

The poll offered voters randomized names of Republican candidates and hopefuls and asked them for their pick for the Republican presidential primary.

The Trump and DeSantis matchup

Joshua McCrain, a political science professor at the University of Utah, said that the trend of Trump staying ahead in polls isn’t surprising, even amid an array of legal troubles.

On Tuesday, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil case. He was also charged with 36 counts of falsifying documents earlier in April, as the Deseret News reported.

Trump faces at least three other federal investigations, including over his possession of classified documents, his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots and over his campaign allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

But, McCrain said, Utah is an interesting playing field. Trump’s “historically bad” performance in the Republican primary in Utah coupled with the state’s inclination toward moderate Republicans like Gov. Spencer Cox and Sen. Mitt Romney could help another candidate get ahead, he said.

McCrain said part of Trump’s appeal is because of his high name recognition among Utah voters.

Utahns are also familiar with DeSantis, who is speculated to launch his bid for president in the coming months. He visited the Beehive State on April 21 for the state Republican Party convention.

A recent poll of Utah voters by Never Back Down, a political action committee that supports DeSantis, showed that in a two-way matchup, DeSantis was ahead of Trump 46% to 35%, with 19% of voters saying they are undecided, as the Deseret News reported.

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In the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll Trump receives strong support from voters over age 57, at 26%, compared to DeSantis’ 18%. DeSantis does better among younger voters ages 18 to 24, with 28%, seven points more than Trump.

“Younger Republicans have a better understanding of what Ron DeSantis has done and what his national stature is,” McCrain said, adding that his popularity with this demographic may not last as relatively more well-known candidates enter the race.

DeSantis is also more favored among very active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 29% to Trump’s 18%. But among somewhat active or not active members, Trump is ahead by 8 percentage points.

“I don’t think you can overstate how offensive the GOP’s unabashed embrace of Donald Trump (and all that entailed) was to a lot of Latter-day Saints, especially younger ones,” The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins tweeted last month.

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While Trump has, historically and according to the latest poll, found success among those who don’t have a four-year college degree, voters with college degrees increasingly favor DeSantis, according to The Washington Post.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll had a similar finding — those with bachelor's degrees choose DeSantis over Trump by 14 percentage points, 26% to 12%.

Takeaways

McCrain’s major takeaway from the poll is that it reflects “the preexisting knowledge” the registered voters may have.

He expects the results of future polls to shift once more candidates enter the race and serious campaigning begins.