Donald Trump is leading Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton by 15 points in Utah, according to a poll released Monday.
Republican Donald Trump has slightly widened his lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Utah, but both are still ahead of the third-party presidential candidates in a UtahPolicy.com poll released Monday.
Trump had the support of 39 percent of the state’s voters in the new poll, with Clinton at 24 percent. Support for Libertarian Gary Johnson dropped to 13 percent, the poll found, while Evan McMullin, a newcomer to the race, was at 9 percent.
Utah has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, but that has not stopped Clinton and the independent candidates from courting voters concerned about Trump’s temperament and stands on immigration and other issues.
Clinton’s national Latino vote director, Lorella Praeli, arrived in Utah on Monday to host a roundtable discussion on immigration in Midvale with local Latino business and political leaders, the latest effort by the campaign in the state.
“Hillary Clinton herself says all the time that she’s not taking anyone or anywhere for granted,” Praeli told the Deseret News. “If we see openings and an ability to make inroads in other communities, in states that are perhaps less traditional as part of the Democrats’ map to victory, it means we aren’t going to just stand by.”
Praeli said in states like Utah, Trump’s “so toxic and so divisive” rhetoric on immigration and other issues is showing voters “he is so unfit to be commander in chief and that he is pulling communities apart instead of bringing people together.”
Her trip from the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters also included a stop in Colorado, she said.
In Midvale, Praeli’s pitch to a group of about 20 people gathered at a hotel conference room included concerns about Trump.
“I think that Donald Trump isn’t just dangerous. I think that he has caused tremendous damage already,” she said, talking about immigration in a way intended to “demonize and paint the community as quote-unquote criminal.”
Utah House Minority Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, called the visit from a top Clinton staffer “heartening” and praised the campaign for having Latinos like Praeli in decision-making roles. “It’s more than just window dressing.”
Still, the poll numbers haven’t changed much since UtahPolicy.com’s last voter survey, conducted in July. Then, the billionaire businessman was ahead of the former secretary of state, 37 percent to 25 percent.
In that previous poll, Johnson garnered 16 percent, but McMullin, a Utah native and Republican running as an independent candidate connected to the “Never Trump” movement, was not yet in the race.
Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said Trump may be on his way to winning Utah’s six electoral votes in November, but that doesn’t mean Clinton is going to give up on focusing attention on the state.
“It does not appear that Utah is going to be one of those swing states,” Perry said. “Utah is still an important talking point in the national dialog because the Republican Party has had such a stronghold here.”
He said Clinton will likely continue to point out Trump’s relatively low level of support as “a sign about him,” and to force the GOP nominee to spend time and resources in a state that Republicans shouldn’t have had to worry about winning.
Trump may have hit his ceiling of support in Utah, said LaVarr Webb, UtahPolicy.com publisher and a columnist for the Deseret News. “I think the sentiment is starting to jell in the presidential race. People have seen a lot of Trump and a lot of Clinton.”
He said that could change if Trump does.
“If Trump would come across as more presidential and stop saying crazy things, more traditional conservative Republicans might be willing to vote for him. We’re seeing a little bit of that, but he has his bouts of going over the top,” Webb said.
While both Johnson and McMullin are campaigning hard for Utah votes, they aren’t having much impact, Webb said. He said Utahns may not especially like Trump or Clinton, but they are also realistic.
McMullin’s showing “coming from zero and from a complete unknown may be not bad, but I’d be surprised if he gets much more than that. Utahns think he reflects their political values and is a good guy, but has no chance of winning,” Webb said.
Johnson, he said, is doing better in Utah than other states but is still falling short of the 15 percent national voter support needed to qualify to participate in the upcoming presidential debates.
Perry said the “foundation” of support for Trump and Clinton is not being affected by the third-party candidates, probably due to party loyalty, even though both finished last in Utah’s March presidential preference party caucus votes.
The new poll was conducted of 605 likely Utah voters by Dan Jones & Associates Sept. 1-9 for the online political news source. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent.