A new poll of likely voters in Utah shows Republican Donald Trump with a 15-point lead over his next closest competitor, Democrat Hillary Clinton. But the GOP nominee has only a plurality of support in a field that includes third party and independent candidates, and he remains very unpopular in the traditionally Republican state.
According to PPP, a Democratic firm, Trump has 39 percent support, while Clinton has 24 percent support. Libertarian party nominee Gary Johnson, meanwhile, has 12 percent support, and independent Evan McMullin has 9 percent. McMullin, a former CIA agent and Provo native, has based his two-week-old presidential campaign in Salt Lake City and is on the ballot in Utah.
Both Trump and Clinton have low approval ratings among Utah's likely voters, with 72 percent viewing Clinton unfavorably and 61 percent saying the same about Trump. But when asked whom they would rather have as president among the two major-party candidates, 53 percent said Trump, 33 percent said Clinton, and 14 percent said they weren't sure.
While Utah has long been a Republican stronghold in presidential elections—the last Democrat to win the Beehive State was Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 landslide—Trump was seen as vulnerable there. He lost the Utah primary and struggled throughout the primary season with Mormons, who make up the majority of Utah's population. There have been just three general-election polls of Utah, including the new PPP survey, but none have shown Trump breaking 40 percent.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign has opened a campaign office in the state and Clinton herself recently wrote an op-ed for the Deseret News (the daily newspaper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), furthering talk that the former secretary of state may believe Utah has a chance of going Democratic. More likely, this Utah push is designed create the appearance of Clinton's momentum in Utah. The PPP poll, however, suggests that even if Utahns are down on the current Republican nominee with respect to past ones (the Mormon Mitt Romney won 73 percent of the vote in 2012 and John McCain won 62 percent in 2008), the state's not likely to turn blue.