To be fair, supporters of Donald Trump did claim he would redraw the Electoral College map. A new Gravis poll in Utah actually corroborates that … although hardly in the direction imagined. In a 3-way race with Libertarian Party candidate thrown in the mix, Trump ends up within the margin of error with Hillary Clinton — and short of 30%:
The focus of the Gravis poll then shifted to the upcoming Presidential election, with Gravis Marketing asking voters their opinions about whom they would vote for in the general election among prospective nominees (including an open third party nominee and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson). The first potential match-up asked the voters, “If you had to vote today in a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who would you vote for?” Donald Trump received the lion’ share of support, with 36 percent indicated they would vote for him, Hillary Clinton received 29 percent. However, 35 percent of those asked in Utah selected the ‘Other’ option – leaving speculation that the traditionally conservative state might select a third party candidate.
Gravis Marketing expanded the list of probable candidates for President of the United States with the second question; “If you had to vote today in a matchup between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Gary Johnson, who would you vote for?” In this scenario, Donald Trump and the ‘other’ candidate tied with 29 percent each, Hillary Clinton received 26 percent support, while Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate received 16 percent.
Even leaving Johnson out of the mix, Gravis gets a virtual tie between “other” and Trump, as well as the actual tie with “other” in the three-way race. Bear in mind that Utah is a state that Mitt Romney won 73/25 over Barack Obama in 2012, boosted no doubt in part because of Romney’s Mormon faith. Still, John McCain won Utah in 2008 by a 63/34 margin as well. Utah has not been competitive in decades, with the smallest margin in recent times coming in 1996 — a 21-point win by Bob Dole on his way to a national defeat.
The demos on the poll look pretty solid, too. The media combine didn’t do exit polls in Utah in 2012, but the data here matches up pretty well with the 2008 exits. The party affiliation in the Gravis poll is 51% Republican, 21% Democrat, almost exactly the same as 2008’s 50/21. Whites make up 92% of the respondents in the poll, while 90% of Utah voters in 2008 were white. Religion and ideology demos look similar as well. If Trump can’t muscle up more than 36% of the GOP vote in a poll where 51% of respondents are Republicans,that looks very problematic, especially in a state as red as Utah.
Furthermore, the rest of the poll looks pretty good for Republicans. Incumbent governor Gary Herbert easily outpolls his Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz 56/29, scoring a full 20 points higher than Trump with the same sample. (He won in 2012 by a 68/28 margin.) Herbert gets a 52/29 job approval rating, while Barack Obama gets only a 33/57.
It’s not exactly an outlier, either, although this is the worst result in two months for Trump in this state. There hasn’t been a lot of polling in Utah of late. A Deseret News poll put Trump behind Hillary in March with similar numbers (36/38), but that was before Trump clinched the nomination and while Cruz was competing heavily in the state. A Utah Policy poll a month ago gave Trump a 13-point lead but still left Trump in the low 40s.
It’s worth pointing out that the race is still in flux, but other than the furor over Trump’s remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, most of that flux is on the Democratic side. Hillary can expect a bump when she wraps up the nomination and Sanders finally acknowledges defeat. That may not amount to much in Utah, but if Republicans don’t come home to Trump, it may not take much, either.