Thursday, July 14, 2011

Breaking News: Obama will not win Utah in 2012

Barack Obama is not going to win Utah next year. His approval rating is 32% with 62% of voters disapproving of him. But now that we have that out of the way there was actually some pretty interesting stuff in our Utah President poll:

-Even though our numbers yesterday showed Mitt Romney would destroy Jon Huntsman in a Republican primary in the state, Huntsman is actually much stronger when tested against Obama in the state. He leads Obama by 40 points at 63-23, compared to a 32 point advantage for Romney against Obama at 63-31. The reason Huntsman does so much better in the general is that he is beloved by Democrats (69/25 favorability) and independents (61/29). He gets 28% of the Democratic vote against Obama, compared to 19% for Romney. And he wins independents by a 39 point margin against the President, compared to 8 points for Romney.

These numbers speak to the fact that Huntsman would be an incredibly formidable candidate against Obama if he made it to the general election. His appeal to Democrats and to independents is remarkable for a Republican candidate. And that's exactly why he won't even come close to smelling the nomination.

-Bill Clinton lost Utah by 19 points in 1992 and that's the closest a Democrat has come to winning the state since 1964. That makes Sarah Palin's performance against Obama truly remarkable- she leads him by only 2 points at 43-41, losing independent voters by 26 points and getting only 69% of the Republican vote while Obama takes 89% of the Democrats. We've polled Palin's favorability in 33 states over the course of the last 8 months and haven't found voters with a positive opinion of her anywhere. We thought dark red Utah might finally be the one but only 32% of voters there have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with an unfavorable one. The search continues. The fact that Palin would make Utah a swing state may be the greatest sign of her weakness yet.

Rounding out the Republican field in Utah Herman Cain leads Obama by 7 points at 43-36, Tim Pawlenty has an 11 point advantage over him at 45-34, and Michele Bachmann tops him by 14 points at 49-35.

-One final note: if the non-Mormons in Utah were a state it could very well be the bluest state in the country, at least based on the results of this poll. Only 30% of poll respondents were not Mormons so the sample size on this group is about 220, making the margin of error +/-6.6%. Nevertheless Obama's approval rating with non-Mormons is 66% with only 29% of voters disapproving of him. That's a higher approval than we've found for Obama in any other state and only Hawaii where he's at 64% even comes close. He leads Huntsman by 9 points with non-Mormons and beyond that it's landslides- 40 points over Romney, 43 against Bachmann, 46 versus Pawlenty, 47 against Cain, and a 51 point edge on Palin.

Folks who know Utah politics better than me- is the non-Mormon population in the state really this liberal Democratic? I had no idea and found these results to be pretty fascinating.

Full results here


Andy said...

I just moved from Utah about two weeks ago, and yes, it is that extreme. On both sides, really; I can't think of having encountered more conservative Republicans or more liberal Democrats than in the good ol' Beehive State. I think that the conservatives see themselves as having the superior ideology, while the liberals, not unreasonably, see the state government as predominantly theocratic.

I think it's a chicken/egg thing, too; hard to tell how many are actually liberal Democrats and how many are just anti-conservative. Full disclosure: I was an anti-conservative, so I don't mean that as a pejorative.

Interesting results, too. Shame about Huntsman. As a former Mormon, current liberal-leaning centrist, I'm his prime demographic in a lot of ways.

jpmassar said...

I believe you tweeted something about same-sex marriage polling results in Utah, but I never saw them published. Did I miss something? Or am I misremembering?


JoelW said...

Well what percentage of non-Mormons in Utah are hispanic? I think that will help you get towards your answer.

Also, SLC is more than 50% non-LDS which means you have a large, non-Mormon, urban population in the state.

angela said...

I lived in Utah for four years, and my husband is from SLC. The liberals there are extremely liberal, and the conservatives are extremely conservative. There are some moderates, but it's definitely the most polarizing place I've ever lived.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what a fuller data set would say on the "are non-Mormons in Utah really this liberal?" question, but:

There's something theoretically to be said for the proposition that being surrounded by those one sees as one's "real" opponents makes one polarize against those opponents. I'm surrounded by Democrats, and I frequently criticize Obama because I think Dems gives him a pass on way too much of his embrace of Republican-ism, but if I were surrounded by crazed Republicans, I imagine I would be much more pro-Obama, simply because he would seem so good compared to those around me.

Anonymous said...

Why are you still polling Pawlenty head to head against Obama?

In the last 7 GOP primaries with all candidates included (UT, NH, TX, NM, OR, MT and FL), Pawlenty has placed 9th, 8th, 8th, 6th, 7th, 7th and 7th.

wt said...

It's kind of amazing just how much we learned about what we know to be a deep red state. Thanks for a great poll.

BOSMAN said...


It looks like Huntsman is running in the wrong party!

Rasmus said...

These don't seem to square with your national polls. Not counting Romney you have Utah just like 15-20 points or so more Republican than the nation as a whole (in terms of margin) when it should be double that.

Anonymous said...

I'm a current non-Mormon resident of Utah. To follow up on Andy's second paragraph, I don't think the non-Mormon Utahns are really all that liberal, but they are almost uniformly anti-conservative.

I think part of this comes from living under the cultural domination of the LDS Church, and part comes from the fact that many (most?) non-Mormon Utahns came here from somewhere else, and we came here because of the outdoor amenities. Our Dog-and-Subaru demographic has to be one of the least conservative groups in the country, at least among whites.

Lee said...

Salt Lake City is so liberal that a recent mayor, Rocky Anderson, had previously been on the board of the Utah Civil Liberties Union. Additionally, Salt Lake City voters voted by 63-37 against Utah's same-sex marriage ban in 2004, even though the measure passed statewide.

Chino Blanco said...

Similar question to jpmassar above...

The Salt Lake Trib reported that you asked these three questions:

-- "Do you think same sex marriage should be legal, illegal, or you don't know"

-- "Do you think interracial marriage should be legal, illegal, or you don't know?"

-- "Do you think polygamy should be legal, illegal, or you don't know"

Would be very interesting to see the polling on those.

I Am Iron Man said...

I think the Palin numbers make it clear that it's early to rule out a Utah victory for Obama.

Consider this scenario:

1. Obama's overall approval (in the US) climbs into the upper 50s or even low 60s (due to an economic recovery and it becoming more and more clear that the modern Republican party is absolutely insane and cares only about the wealthy.)

2. Michele Bachmann wins the GOP nomination.

3. Bachmann's husband has an October surprise (it won't really be that surprising... but it will be to the clueless.)

As terrible as Sarah Palin is, I really think Michele Bachmann is far worse. The only reason she performs better than Palin right now in the general election contests is because she is not as well known.

Pope said...

I think non-Mormons in Utah aren't really that liberal. I think many of them are attempting to lash out at the majority by disapproving of everything they do. I think they'd be much more like Nevada as a swing state if it weren't for the Mormon influence.

Anonymous said...

This suggests the Democrats in Utah are pretty unabashedly liberal:

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