An endorsement from former President Donald Trump makes nearly 4 out of 10 Utah Republican primary voters more likely to support a candidate in statewide and congressional races, according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

A similar portion of registered primary-voting Republicans are not impacted by a Trump endorsement, the poll found. Trump’s endorsement makes around one-fifth of Republican voters less likely to support a candidate in a primary election — whether it be for U.S. Senate, U.S. House or governor.

As of Monday afternoon, Trump had endorsed two candidates in Utah Republican primaries. Rep. Celeste Maloy received a nod from the former president on Monday. Maloy, who has only been in office seven months, was facing a reelection bid made more perilous after Sen. Mike Lee endorsed her challenger, Colby Jenkins.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who is running to replace Mitt Romney in the U.S. Senate, was the first Utah candidate to receive Trump’s stamp of approval this election cycle.

Trump put his kingmaker status to the test in Utah with his Staggs endorsement just hours before the state Republican Party nominating convention on April 27. Staggs came away with nearly 70% of delegate support, making him the official GOP nominee ahead of the June 25 primary election.

Trump’s kingmaker status is being put to the test with his Utah Senate endorsement
Donald Trump endorses Trent Staggs for U.S. Senate

Staggs will appear on the ballot alongside three signature-gathering candidates, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson, Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton and 3rd District congressman John Curtis, who came in second at convention with 30%.

While polling and fundraising metrics favor Curtis, the GOP presidential nominee’s thumb on the scale could complicate the outcome of the hotly contested four-way competition. Especially as Senate hopefuls continue to jostle over a near-plurality of still undecided voters.

The poll found that 39% of registered Utah Republicans who did, or plan to, vote in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate say Trump’s endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate. Slightly more, 43%, say the former president’s endorsement makes no difference to them. And 18% say it makes them less likely to support a candidate.

The results are almost identical, within 1-3 percentage points, for the governor’s race and U.S. House races in Utah.

Trump’s backing comes at a critical time for Maloy. The incumbent candidate, freshly elected in November, has had little time to build her name ID or a voting record during her seven months in office. Since Lee endorsed Maloy’s challenger, the senator has gone all in for Jenkins, securing endorsements and touring the state with the former Green Beret.

This primary season, Gov. Spencer Cox faces a challenger from his right, state Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, who has emphasized his support of Trump in campaign messaging.

Rep. Blake Moore, of Utah’s 1st Congressional District, is being challenged by Ogden electrician Paul Miller. 4th District Rep. Burgess Owens is running unopposed for his party’s nomination.

Trump has made no indication that he will weigh in on any other Beehive State contests.

The poll was conducted by HarrisX between June 4-7. There were 424 likely GOP primary voters polled, with a margin of error of +/-4.8 percentage points for that group.


A recent Deseret News focus group with likely GOP primary voters explored feelings surrounding Trump’s endorsement of Staggs.

“To me, it’s a minus,” said Jacob Fried, a self-described “moderate” living in Sandy. “I do not think Trump is anything resembling what a real Republican is. ... So his endorsement, to me, is a big negative.”

Another participant, Herriman city council member Sherrie Ohrn, defended Trump but questioned whether his endorsement should be a deciding factor for voters.

“I definitely support President Trump,” Ohrn said. “But it doesn’t make or break the Senate candidates for me.”

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