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Poll Shows Majority of Utahns Oppose Money Being Spent on Primary

Poll Shows Majority of Utahns Oppose Money Being Spent on Primary



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- As Utah moves ahead with plans to spend $3.5 million on a presidential primary next year, a poll shows 70 percent of residents oppose spending so much on the vote, according to the Deseret Morning News.

Utah's primary, scheduled for Feb. 5, 2008, will coincide with the primaries of several other states, including California.

Gov. Jon Huntsman and legislative leaders have encouraged the primary and believe if neighboring states follow suit a number of candidates would be compelled to come into the region, learning about our issues and concerns.

California, which carries the largest number of Electoral College votes as the nation's most populous state, also decided on a Feb. 5 primary date a few weeks ago. About 19 states, including Texas, Florida and New York, are holding or considering holding a primary, party caucus or convention that day.

If most of those states do pick Feb. 5, it would turn that day into a nationwide mega-primary, with the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees likely picked on that day.

That could mean Utah may be ignored or bypassed by candidates who will spend their time and money in larger states.

It's still worth it for the state to have a voice in what's being called "Super-Duper Tuesday," Huntsman's spokesman Mike Mower told the Deseret Morning News for a copyright story Sunday.

"For the first time, Utahns will have a meaningful say in picking both the Republican and Democratic nominees," Mower said.

Participation in the primary will give Utahns an opportunity to participate in what is becoming a national primary election, said Todd Taylor, longtime Democratic Party state executive director.

"Without it, we'd be left out completely," he said.

But according to a KSL-TV/Deseret Morning News poll by Dan Jones & Associates, 70 percent of Utahns are against spending $3.5 million on a primary, 25 percent approve, while 5 percent didn't know.

The poll found that number grows to 88 percent disapproval among those who said they were Democrats and 73 percent among those who identify as independents. Sixty-two percent of Republicans don't want the costly presidential primary, according to the poll.

Former Gov. Mike Leavitt traveled to surrounding state legislatures in 1999 hoping to drum up support for a Western states presidential primary in early March of that election season.

Utah put aside $700,000 in 2000 for that local primary, even though it was only joined by two other states. However, just before the early March vote here, the major challengers to the front-runners in both parties dropped out.

Utah had only a 10 percent voter turnout in the 2000 presidential primary election, which was largely meaningless, since even earlier primaries had picked the party nominees.

Utah didn't hold a presidential primary election in 2004 when President Bush was clearly the GOP nominee, and the Republican-controlled Utah Legislature didn't want to spend any money to help state Democrats hold a primary. Democrats organized their own primary that year, spending around $50,000 putting it on.

Utah has not voted for a Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Utahns gave President Bush his largest majority of votes both in 2000 and 2004.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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