New poll: John Curtis has commanding lead in 2024 GOP U.S. Senate primary race

In a poll conducted by a PAC supporting the congressman’s Senate bid, Curtis leads with 41.5%, with Trent Staggs, Brad Wilson and Jason Walton trailing behind.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) John Curtis campaigns at the Utah Republican Nominating Convention in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 27, 2024. Curtis, who is running for U.S. Senate, leads in a new poll conducted by a PAC supporting his race.

Rep. John Curtis appears to have a big lead over his Republican rivals ahead of the June primary election in Utah’s U.S. Senate race, according to a new poll.

The survey, which queried 600 likely Utah Republican primary voters shortly after the Utah GOP’s state convention, gives Curtis 41% support. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who triumphed over Curtis at last month’s state convention, was second with 14.5%. Former Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson received 9%, while Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton received 1.5% in the survey. Of those surveyed, 33% were undecided.

The poll was commissioned by Conservative Values for Utah, a super PAC that has pumped nearly $4 million into the race to support the congressman’s Senate bid. The same group commissioned a poll late last year before Curtis officially entered the race, giving Curtis a similar level of support with 40%.

The survey was conducted shortly after the Utah State GOP Convention with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0%.

Conservative Values for Utah is almost entirely funded by wealthy North Carolina entrepreneur Jay Faison, who heads up the conservative ClearPath nonprofit organization that, like Curtis, advocates for a conservative viewpoint on climate issues.

Curtis’ large lead in the poll can likely be explained by his higher public profile as a member of Congress. A Majority of those likely voters surveyed, 52%, had a favorable opinion of Curtis, while 17% held an unfavorable opinion for a +35 net favorable rating.

Staggs received a +3 net favorable rating from respondents (17% favorable/14% unfavorable), while nearly 70% said they either had never heard of him or had no opinion.

Wilson’s tenure as a top leader in the Utah Legislature is apparently not the springboard to higher office that he may have hoped. A quarter of respondents had a favorable opinion of Wilson, while 17% viewed him unfavorably and 58% had either never heard of him or did not have an opinion.

Walton fared the worst in the court of public opinion, with nearly 90% of those surveyed saying they had either never heard of him or did not have an opinion.

If the survey results prove accurate, it would be enough for Curtis to win the GOP nomination in June. With four candidates in the race, the winner only needs to secure a plurality of the vote to win. Since Utah gave candidates the ability to secure a spot on the primary ballot through signature gathering, several high-profile nominating contests were won by candidates who received less than a majority.

In 2020, Spencer Cox received just 36.15% of the primary vote, but it was more than his three opponents, so he won the GOP gubernatorial nomination. That same year, Rep. Blake Moore secured the GOP nomination in Utah’s 1st Congressional District over three other candidates with just 31%, and Rep. Burgess Owens got 43.5% in the 4th District primary to win over three opponents.

Staggs advanced to the primary ballot by winning the delegate vote at April’s state convention, while Curtis, Wilson and Walton utilized the signature path to reach the primary ballot.

Corey Norman, chief of staff for Curtis, called the poll results encouraging.

“This polling again confirms that Utah voters like John’s conservative message of standing up to Joe Biden and fighting for Utah values,” Norman said in a text message to The Salt Lake Tribune. “We look forward to continuing to share John’s plans to stop Biden’s spending, secure our border, put China in check, protect Utah’s land and ensure energy independence and dominance.”

Staggs’ campaign cast doubt on the poll results since they came from a source with a bias decidedly in favor of Curtis.

“Trent Staggs has momentum and grassroots excitement. Utahns are ready for an America First senator to replace Mitt Romney and join Mike Lee. Utah knows they won’t get that from John Curtis, even if his own push polls don’t make that clear,” Tori Kimball, a spokesperson for Staggs, said in a statement.

Walton brushed aside the survey, noting there is still more than a month until the June 25 primary election.

“The only poll that matters is the one the voters take when they cast their ballot. I’m the only Republican political outsider running in this race. My Republican opponents have been politicking for more than 40 years combined. If voters want a career politician, they should pick one of the other three, but if they want a senator who will put them first, then I’m their guy,” Walton said.

Wilson’s campaign also brushed aside the poll numbers when contacted by The Tribune.

”There’s no one who’s working harder to earn the support of Utahns than Brad Wilson. He continues to lead the field in grassroots support, in-state endorsements and fundraising because Utahs know he’s a conservative fighter who will make Washington work more like Utah. Brad continues to build momentum every day and is putting in the work to win this race,” Gabby Wiggins, a spokesperson for Wilson, said.

Correction • This story is updated to reflect John Curtis’ 41% support of likely GOP voters.

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