Utah Is No GOP Battleground After All, Poll Finds

By: - July 14, 2011 12:00 am

Much has been made of the Utah connections of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr., two of the Republican Party’s presidential hopefuls.

Romney, a former business executive and governor of Massachusetts, helped turn around the financially troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, significantly boosting his profile in Utah. Huntsman was the state’s governor between 2005 and 2009. Both men are Mormons, adherents to Utah’s dominant religous faith.

But any notion that the two men are equally suited for the presidency in the eyes of Utah residents seems to be at odds with public sentiment. On Wednesday (July 13), a new survey by Public Policy Polling shows that Utah voters are overwhelmingly in Romney’s corner. The poll, accessible here , found that Romney has the backing of a staggering 82 percent of Utah Republicans, who, in turn, represent the majority of the state’s voters. Huntsman, by contrast, receives only 14 percent support.

One of the pollsters who conducted the study, Tom Jensen, thinks Huntsman’s role as ambassador to China under President Obama — a position he accepted after serving as Utah governor — is a negative among many Utah Republicans, who are also suspicious of his support for civil unions involving same-sex couples. Huntsman, Jensen tells The Salt Lake Tribune , has “clearly riled up the right wing in the state.”

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