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Poll: Trump’s unpopularity could swing Utahns to Hillary

First Published      Last Updated Sep 02 2016 07:27 pm

Clinton, Trump disliked; Libertarian Johnson draws double-digit support.

Donald Trump's brash swagger and outlandish behavior have made him so unpopular in Utah that a new poll shows the state could swing to Hillary Clinton in November, potentially becoming the first time in 52 years that a Democrat has won the Beehive State.

Clinton and Trump are knotted at 35 percent, with five months of campaigning remaining before the election, according to the survey conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson draws 13 percent, a remarkably strong showing for the candidate who garnered 1.2 percent as the party's candidate four years ago.

"For a state where the majority of voters have supported Republican presidential candidates since 1964, the fact that Trump is in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton suggests Utah voters are still very reluctant about a Trump presidency," said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute.

The Clinton campaign said the poll shows that, even in Utah, voters are turned off by the GOP nominee.

"This is just the latest sign that Americans of all political stripes just aren't buying what Donald Trump is selling and agree he is unfit and unqualified to be president," said Clinton spokeswoman Lily Adams. "From his career of scamming Americans to his divisive and racist rhetoric, Utahns can't afford Donald Trump's America."

Messages to the Trump campaign were not returned Friday.

But the biggest Election Day winner may be whoever opens the nose-plug concession as Utahns will largely be holding their noses as they vote. Sixty-seven percent of those polled have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton and 65 percent dislike Trump.

Trump struggles most with voters in the 18-34 age group and women. Clinton is likewise viewed unfavorably by younger voters and by 79 percent of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The discontent seems to be driving Johnson's numbers to a level of support that no third-party candidate has seen since Texas billionaire Ross Perot finished second in Utah in 1992, winning 27 percent of the vote. George H.W. Bush led that contest in Utah and Bill Clinton, who won the White House that year, finished third, the only state where Clinton fared so badly.

"It's interesting that Libertarian Gary Johnson is polling in double digits, especially since he's gotten significantly less media exposure this cycle," Perry said. "Clearly, there is a segment of the Utah population that is still willing to consider a third-party candidate."

Leonard Eversole of Bountiful, for example, said he has cast ballots only for Republicans in the presidential election since he was first old enough to vote in the 1960 race between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Not this time, however.

This year, Eversole said he will probably be voting for Johnson.

"I'm not going to vote for Clinton and I'm not going to vote for Trump," he said. "What's different? Trump's big mouth."

"I'm not Muslim, by the way, but the Muslim thing was the most ridiculous," Eversole said, referring to the GOP candidate's proposal to bar any Muslims from emigrating to the United States. "There was no manner of testing or anything, just 'no Muslims' and that's ridiculous. That's discrimination if ever there was any."

Lee Carrillo of South Ogden supported Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the primary, but said she plans to vote for Clinton in November.

"Like most people, I think I'm pretty dismayed by the candidates, but I think Hillary Clinton is probably going to be … a more effective president. But I don't like either one of them," she said. "I think [Trump] is practically a maniac. Everyone talks about, 'Oh, he's so smart with money,' or whatever. I just think he has no qualifications for president, and I haven't liked one single thing I heard him say."

Trump's weakness in Utah predates his becoming the presumptive Republican nominee. In the March caucuses, Trump won just 14 percent of the Utah GOP vote, being crushed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and finishing just behind Kasich.

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