SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump continues to hold a double-digit lead in Utah over his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in new polling released Thursday that also found an overwhelming majority of likely voters are concerned the election results won’t be accepted by the candidates.

Half of the likely Utah voters in the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll say Trump is their pick for president, compared to 38% who choose Biden. Another 3% back Libertarian Jo Jorgensen for president; 1%, unspecified other candidates; and 7% aren’t sure.

But reminded that Trump has said repeatedly he may not go along with the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, 80% of likely voters said they have some level of concern that one of the presidential candidates won’t accept the results — 62% either are very or somewhat concerned while another 18% said they are not very concerned.

Only 16% said they’re not at all concerned about the peaceful transfer of power after the election and 4% aren’t sure.

Still, a majority of Utahns view the president favorably, 52%, compared to 38% in the Beehive State who have a favorable opinion of Biden. And Trump’s job approval is at 55%, down just a single percentage point from last month.

The poll for the Deseret News and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics was conducted Oct. 12-17 of 1,000 likely Utah voters by independent pollster Scott Rasmussen. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Rasmussen said the concern expressed about what happens after the election hasn’t impacted Trump’s support in Utah.

“I think it’s safe to say the electoral votes in Utah safely remain in the president’s column,” the pollster said, even though in September, Trump led Biden 53% to 35%, a 3 percentage point loss for the president and a 3 percentage point gain for his Democratic opponent.

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“It is interesting his margin is down a little bit. It’s hard to know if that’s just statistical noise, or whether maybe it’s a reflection of the last (presidential) debate and testing positive” for COVID-19, Rasmussen said of the president’s standing in Utah. “But still, a 12-point margin is pretty decent.”

Trump recently backtracked after declining several times to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses his reelection bid. But the president has continued to claim there will be widespread election fraud because of a national shift during the coronavirus pandemic to voting by mail, something Utah has done successfully for years.

“To be honest, he hasn’t done the best job of clarifying the issue,” Rasmussen said, adding Trump’s lack of a “clear statement” about how he’ll react if he loses has increased voters’ discomfort. “Most people in America, and certainly most of Utah, have a sense of fairness. Results come in and win or lose, you take what you get.”

He said the concern measured in the poll partly reflects the president’s comments but more broadly, “a concern that the political system itself is a little bit dysfunctional.” Although Trump has been the focus of that concern, Rasmussen said a “lot of people on the right say they are not convinced Biden will concede gracefully, either.”

In August, Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, said Biden “should not concede under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.”

Because of delays in counting absentee ballots, it could be some time before the winner is known. Even then, there is an expectation of a repeat of the legal battle that ensued over the Florida vote count in the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We could end up in a very tense situation,” Rasmussen said.

Hinckley Institute Director Jason Perry said the question of voter concern about the election results being accepted is timely because “so many people are talking about it. It shows that this is more than just talk about this possibility. Both sides are expecting there to be lawsuits or contention about the final outcome.”

Perry pointed out a whopping 94% of Democrats in the poll are very or somewhat concerned, along with 70% of unaffiliated or third-party voters and 46% of Republicans — numbers that reflect what he said is an unfounded concern that the president won’t give up the office if he fails to secure a second term.

“It’s a narrative that is motivating to voters,” he said. “I don’t believe anyone really thinks if President Trump loses he will not step out of the White House. ... This is not how our country works.”

The Hinckley Institute director said while that fear may be driving people to the polls now, that could end up having a reverse effect.

“The bottom line is the allegations are thrown out enough and repeated enough that voters have at least in their mind, a concern about the legitimacy. My hope is that does not keep people from participating because the strategy could backfire as well,” Perry said.

Scott Howell, a former Democratic Utah Senate leader and a key surrogate for Biden in Utah, said he sees a “major disconnect” between the level of concern raised and Trump’s support in the state. He said the heightened worry over the election results being accepted could translate into voters taking another look at Biden.

“When you talk about a transition of power, it has always been orderly. It has always been without any type of what I’d call military intervention or things that you see in other countries, assassinations and all that,” Howell said, “The president has said time and time again that he’s not ready to accept what could happen.”

He said that’s not the case with the former vice president.

“If Joe loses, he will lose it with honor and dignity and he will move on and try to continue to contribute,” Howell said, adding he’s never heard from the campaign that Biden wouldn’t concede once all the ballots are counted. “Knowing Joe the way I know him, he’s just going to be gracious.”

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, a co-chairman of Trump’s reelection campaign in Utah, said voters in the state are anxious about what they anticipate will be a tight race.

“I think anytime there’s a close election, whether it’s local or national, there’s probably concern over how it’s going to roll out after the effect,” Adams said. “I think it shows people really engaged in the election. It’s not a bad thing, OK, the fact that they’re engaged enough to be concerned.”

Trump is focused on the accuracy of the vote, he said, not on staying put if he doesn’t win.

“When he speaks boldly, he can be misunderstood. His intent can be misunderstood. But I do believe that he’s probably rightfully concerned” about making sure the “results are tabulated properly,” Adams said. “He’s been very assertive about it and I think, in his way, he’s raised concerns about it. But I also believe, and I’ve always felt that he would transition if the results were obvious and conclusive.”