Utah voters might be ready to move on from Donald Trump.
The former president didn’t fare well in a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, even among Republicans. In fact, he finished third in a field of potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates, including one of his biggest critics in Congress.
Also, 6 in 10 Utahns overall have an unfavorable impression of Trump, though he does a little better with Republicans.
Trump announced from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last month that he would run for president a third time.
If the Republican presidential primary were held today, only 14.6% of Utahns would vote for the former president.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis topped the list at 24.2%, followed by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who lost her reelection bid to a Trump-endorsed candidate, at 16.4%. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz both had 6%, while former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley came in at 3.7%.
In the poll, 20.7% of respondents didn’t know who they would vote for and 8.5% would choose another candidate. Those results reflect all voters regardless of party affiliation.
Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, said Trump’s influence appears to be declining.
“His power, his command over the Republican Party seems to be waning to the point that when you ask Utah Republicans if they would consider a different candidate, they clearly would,” he said.
“There was a time when conservative candidates wanted his endorsement and felt that they needed a Trump endorsement to be reelected. That is not the case now.”
Perry said the GOP presidential field is open and Trump’s entry into the race isn’t freezing out other candidates. Who’s in and who’s out could be more clear early next year.
Trump’s numbers in the poll improved among those who say they plan to participate in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, which is open to only party members. He also does better with GOP voters, though still comes in behind DeSantis.
The poll found 74.8% of respondents intend to vote in the presidential primary more than a year from now. Among that group, 28.9% would choose DeSantis, 18.8% Trump and 12.1% Cheney, who sits on the House’s Jan. 6 committee and has been highly critical of Trump. They were followed by Cruz at 7.5%, Pence at 6.4% and Haley at 3.7%. Another 16.5% were undecided and 6% would pick someone else.
Among those who self-identified as Republican in the survey, 33.1% favored DeSantis, followed by Trump with 21.1% and Cheney at 10%. The remaining potential candidates were under 7%, while 16% of voters were undecided.
Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll of 802 Utah registered voters Nov. 18-23. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
DeSantis, who held a fundraiser in Utah earlier this year, also outpolled Trump among voters who identified themselves as “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative.” Last month, 86 GOP Utah elected officials, including several state senators, signed a letter urging DeSantis to run. It’s another sign that even conservative Republicans are ready to move past Trump.
Trump won Utah in both 2016 and 2020, though in his first election he finished with only 45.5% of the vote, the lowest percentage for any Republican since George H. W. Bush in 1992. Democrat Hillary Clinton and independent Evan McMullin split the remainder of the Utah vote that year.
In 2020, Trump took the state with 58.1% of the vote.
Perry said Trump’s fading influence is not only evident in the fact that Utahns are willing to entertain other candidates but also in how they view him.
The Deseret News/Hinckley poll found 60.1% of Utah voters have an unfavorable impression of the former president, including half who have a strongly unfavorable impression. Only 38% have a favorable impression of Trump.
Among Republicans in the survey, 50.8% have a favorable impression of Trump, while 47% have an unfavorable impression. Three-fourths of “very conservative” voters and half of “somewhat conservative voters” have a favorable impression of him, according to the survey.
“That shows that they are willing to look at other candidates and the influence of former President Donald Trump is not close to where it was before,” Perry said.
A new HarrisX poll conducted for the Deseret News found a majority of voters nationwide are ready to move from Trump as a leader of the Republican Party.
Republicans aren’t sure about who is leading their party. While 30% say Trump, almost a quarter of Republican voters say they are unsure or don’t know who their party’s leader is right now, according to the national poll, which was conducted Monday and Tuesday.
But when Republicans were asked whether the party should move on from Trump or keep him as a leader in the party, 52% said he should maintain his role as a leader. But 55% of voters overall, including Democrats and independents, say the GOP should move on from Trump.