NewsLocal News


Poll shows struggle for Romney reelection, a wide-open field for his replacement

Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 15, 2023

OGDEN, Utah — A recent survey found Sen. Mitt Romney faced some struggles if he were to seek re-election, but also some interesting levels of popularity for his replacement.

The public opinion polls by Noble Predictive Insights in July found 44% of those surveyed did not want Romney to seek re-election. It jumped to 54% of Republicans who said they didn't want him to run again. Where Romney found support was among Democrats and self-described independents.

"When it comes to Utah's electorate, they saw a plurality didn't want to see Romney run," pollster Mike Noble told FOX 13 News. "But especially among Republicans, a majority of them didn't want to see Romney run for re-election, which is pretty interesting."

Romney survey 2

Those numbers did not appear to surprise Leah Murray, the director of Weber State University's Olene Walker Institute for Politics & Public Service.

"He was controversial. In voting to convict President Trump, it puts him in opposition to his party," she said Friday. "So even if you’re not super supportive of the former president, you might be super-loyal to your party."

Murray believes Romney had a good shot at getting re-elected, but he would have faced trouble at the Utah Republican Party convention and a tough primary election.

"That’s a very different crowd than who is the primary voter electorate," she said of GOP delegates. "Which is a very different crowd than a general voter electorate."

That's what Noble's polling signaled when it surveyed the landscape with and without Romney's name. Romney was the favorite (though a majority were undecided). Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who told FOX 13 News he was not running, was the clear frontrunner behind Romney, followed by Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson; House Speaker Brad Wilson and Sen. Mike Kennedy tied at 7% each; Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs polling at 4% and former Utah GOP Chair Thomas Wright polling at 3%.

Romney survey

"I don’t know if he says he’s not running before he sees this data," Murray joked about Reyes after looking at the survey results.

Reyes told FOX 13 News he would be backing a friend who will announce in the coming days. It was someone he described as "a great conservative, patriot and warrior." It has been rumored that person is Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard.

Since Romney's announcement on Wednesday, other prominent Republican names have been floated to run for the open seat including former Congressman and FOX News pundit Jason Chaffetz and businessman Brad Bonham. Congressman John Curtis has hinted at a potential run; Carolyn Phippen told FOX 13 News she is considering whether to jump in.

Murray said the names being floated represent different brands of the modern GOP. There are those backing former President Trump's MAGA platform to more libertarian-leaning Republicans and moderate and more establishment-Republicans. Noble said he expects whomever wins the GOP nomination will be more conservative than Romney was.

But Noble said his surveys have also found Utah is starting to trend toward Trump's wing of the GOP.

"The joke was two or three years ago is that if Trump were to run, he would win every primary except for in Utah. That was the one place where Trump was underwater with Republicans," he said. "But that seems to shift and I think really a lot of has changed since the indictments happened is kind of this rally around the flag effect has happened."