Poll: Mitt Romney leads potential Senate challengers ahead of 2024 election — if he decides to run

If Romney doesn’t run next year, more than half of Utah Republicans are undecided on who should replace him.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney speaks to media after a visit to the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Romney leads in a new poll about Utah's U.S. Senate race in 2024.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has some work to do if he plans on running for another term next year, but he has a big head start on any potential challengers, according to a new poll.

In a hypothetical 2024 Republican Senate primary match-up, 30% of Utah Republicans would vote for Romney. Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is reportedly eyeing a U.S. Senate bid, is the only other potential candidate with double-digit support at 13%.

So far, two other candidates are in the race for Romney’s seat, but they only managed marginal support in the poll from Noble Predictive Insights. House Speaker Brad Wilson, who launched his campaign earlier this year, is at 5%. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs has been campaigning vigorously to replace Romney next year and was favored by just 3% of Utah Republicans.

With the 2024 primary election still 10 months away, nearly four in 10 Utah Republicans are still undecided on who they prefer as their standard bearer.

Other speculative candidates included in the poll received single-digit backing in the survey. State Sen. Mike Kennedy, who lost to Romney in the 2018 GOP primary, was at 5%, and Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson got 3%.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brad Wilson, Speaker of the House of Representatives, delivers a keynote address "Great Salt Lake: The Key to Our Past and Future" and talks about 2023 legislation that will help the plight of the Great Salt Lake at The Wallace Stegner Center's 28th Annual Symposium, March 17, 2023.

Take Romney out of the race, and the survey suggests the contest to replace him would be wide open, with 55% of Utah Republicans saying they’d be undecided.

In a hypothetical, no-Romney primary, Reyes is the only candidate in the poll who cracks double digits at 16%. Henderson receives 8%, Wilson and Kennedy with 7%, and Staggs with 4%.

Romney has not yet said whether he will seek another term in 2024, but he has recently stepped up his fundraising efforts ahead of another potential run. Whatever he decides, most Utah Republicans polled do not want to see his name on a ballot next year.

54% of Republicans surveyed say Romney should not run for re-election, while just 33% say he should. 12% are undecided.

Support for a Romney re-run is higher among Democrats and Independents, with 47% and 45% saying he should run again. Overall, 44% of Utahns oppose Romney seeking another term in 2024, while 39% are in favor.

“A path to victory for Romney could slightly clear up if he makes it through a GOP Primary,” Mike Noble, CEO and founder of NPI, says. “The question is, will Republicans who are not a fan of Romney stay home or worse, cross the aisle?”

“If Romney is not in the race, the focus will all be on the outcome of the GOP Primary, and it’ll get significantly less interesting in the General Election,” he says.

The poll was conducted July 7-18 and included 598 registered Utah voters, with a margin of error +/-4.0%. NPI polled 301 registered Republican voters. The results from that group had a margin of error +/-5.65%.