Utah Republicans overwhelmingly favor Mitt Romney over Jon Huntsman Jr. as a potential Republican presidential candidate, according to a January statewide survey.
In a poll conducted for the Exoro Group and the Center for Public Policy & Administration at the University of Utah, Republicans in the state said they would prefer the former Massachusetts governor over their own former governor by a staggering margin, 65 to 16 percent.
Including all Utah voters, Romney still had a big 20-point margin, winning 48 to 28 percent. (The poll was conducted before Huntsman announced his intention to resign from his post as U.S. Ambassador to China.)
But when it comes to a hypothetical 2012 run for the U.S. Senate, Huntsman is in better shape. Among Republicans, Huntsman's wins 40 percent of the vote to 26 percent for the Senate incumbent Orrin Hatch and 30 percent for Representative Jason Chaffetz.
Among all Utah voters, Huntsman is even more firmly ahead in the poll, with 48 percent of the vote to Chaffetz's 23 percent and Hatch's 21. As is the case in a match-up with Romney, here Huntsman runs comparatively better among non-Republicans in the Beehive state.
After all, Huntsman left office with sky-high approval ratings, scoring 84 percent in a March 2009 Utah voter poll conducted by the BYU Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. The former governor's ratings were above 80 percent among Mormons and non-Mormons alike and actually topped 90 percent among Utah Democrats.
In Gallup data, Utah is the most Republican state in the union. In the 2008 presidential election, fully 50 percent of Utah voters identified as Republicans in the exit poll, more than double the number of self-described Democrats (21 percent).