It's a good thing for Jon Huntsman that his home state of Utah isn't a terribly important one to the Republican Presidential nomination process. A plurality of GOP primary voters there have an unfavorable opinion of him and he gets absolutely crushed by Mitt Romney in the state.
Overall 43% of primary voters have a positive opinion of Huntsman to 46% with a negative one. He fares well with moderates in his party (65/21) and does ok with voters who describe themselves as just 'somewhat' right of center (46/41). But with voters who describe themselves as 'very conservative' Huntsman is a pariah. Only 29% of them rate him positively with 61% giving him an unfavorable review. His work for the Obama administration and centrist stances on some issues have clearly riled up the right wing in the state.
Romney is the first choice of 63% of Republicans in the state with Huntsman placing a very distant second at 10%. Michele Bachmann at 6%, Sarah Palin at 5%, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul at 4%, Newt Gingrich at 3%, and Tim Pawlenty at 1% round out the field.
Romney's performance in Utah is the strongest we've seen for any of the Republican candidates in any individual state. The best before now was Romney in Massachusetts, where he pulled 49%. 83% of primary voters see him favorably to only 13% with a negative opinion.
Asked to choose directly between Romney and Huntsman 82% of respondents pick Romney to only 14% who side with Huntsman. Data we'll release tomorrow shows that Democrats in Utah absolutely love Huntsman and that may sum up the problem with his candidacy. He's the Republican candidate that Democrats love and filling that niche won't win you a lot of primaries.
On the Senate front 47% of Republicans would like Jason Chaffetz to be the party's nominee for the US Senate next year compared to 43% whose first choice is Orrin Hatch. The 47% supporting Chaffetz pretty closely tracks the 44% who would like to see Hatch replaced with someone more conservative next year.
What's interesting about that is only 30% of GOP voters actually express the sentiment that Hatch is 'too liberal.' There's a significant chunk of the Republican electorate that thinks Hatch is fine ideologically but just wants someone more conservative anyway. That's an indication that the Tea Party mentality that scuttled Republican chances in several Senate general elections last year still exists some places- and it has the potential to hurt the party in Utah if Jim Matheson decides to run for the Senate. Matheson polls 4 points better in a head to head against Chaffetz than Hatch.
Hatch destroys Chaffetz with moderate voters, leading 67-23. And he stays pretty competitive with somewhat conservative ones, trailing only 47-43. But with 'very conservative' voters he's at a 59-29 disadvantage and that's what puts him down overall. It's hard to say how the opinions of voters overall translates to convention goers next year but clearly Hatch is at very serious risk of losing renomination just as Bob Bennett did last year.
Full results here