Although former President Donald Trump maintains a growing lead in polls among Utah Republicans, both he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have seen a dip in support.

A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows that if the Republican presidential primary were held today, 27% of GOP voters say they would choose Trump and 19% would vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Trump’s lead is wider than the last poll in July when he led DeSantis by five percentage points, though both he (29%) and DeSantis (24%) have seen their support drop slightly among Utah Republicans.

Former Vice President Mike Pence (9%) comes in third place, while entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (5%) and former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., (5%) are tied for fourth. Cheney, a frequent Trump critic, lost to a Trump-endorsed candidate in the Wyoming Republican primary last year and now holds a faculty position at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. She has not declared her candidacy for president.

Nonetheless, Cheney polls higher among Utah Republicans than several declared candidates, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (4%), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (4%), Sen. Tim Scott (2%) and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (2%).

Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney appears onstage in conversation with David Rubenstein at the 92nd Street Y on Monday, June 26, 2023, in New York. | Andy Kropa, Associated Press

Nearly a quarter of Utah Republicans, 24%, either support another candidate or are undecided.

Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said the “most important number” in the poll is the high percentage of undecided voters.

“That’s really what we should be looking at right now, is whether or not any of the current slate of candidates can catch fire in the state of Utah,” Perry said. “It’s clear after the debate last week that none of the other candidates have put themselves in a position to really eat away at the lead Donald Trump has over the other candidates, and that’s not just in the state of Utah, that is true in states all across the country as well.”

But, Perry said, it’s also clear many Utahns are looking for an alternative to Trump. As the campaign season progresses, and candidates start dropping out, a consensus figure might emerge from among Trump’s opponents, he said.

Among self-described “very conservative” voters in Utah, Trump sits at 47%, with his closest challenger — DeSantis — at 29%. Among moderate voters, Pence is the favorite at 13%, followed by DeSantis (12%) and Cheney (10%).

Religious affiliation is a factor, too. Trump and DeSantis are in a stalemate (23%) for support from self-described “very active” Latter-day Saints, while Trump leads by over 30 percentage points among “somewhat or not active” Latter-day Saints (Trump at 49%, and DeSantis at 19%).

Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., June 13, 2023. | Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

While Trump’s lead among Utah Republicans has steadily grown — from an 11-percentage-point deficit in December 2022 to an eight-point lead now — his support in the Beehive State continues to be much lower than in other parts of the country.

In national polls, Trump maintains a 35-percentage-point lead. A recent poll in Arizona shows Trump leading by 47 percentage points; in Nevada, by 30%.

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The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll, conducted Aug. 7-14, came days after Trump pleaded “not guilty” to criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. News of criminal charges against Trump and 18 others for attempting to interfere with the 2020 election in Georgia did not surface until Aug. 14, however.

To date, Trump’s legal battles have caused his overall favorability among voters to drop, even as he stays steady or rises in Republican primary polls.

“The question is, can Ron DeSantis or any of the other candidates mount a campaign that can eliminate (Trump’s) lead?” Perry said. “So far, we have not seen it, but Utahns have indicated in this poll they’re willing to consider another candidate.”

Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former Vice President Mike Pence; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; businessman Vivek Ramaswamy; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum stand onstage before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee. | Morry Gash, Associated Press

Contributing: Suzanne Bates.

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