SALT LAKE CITY — Provo Mayor John Curtis continues to lead former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and political newcomer Tanner Ainge in the 3rd Congressional District GOP primary, according to a poll released Thursday.
The UtahPolicy.com poll found 31 percent of voters in the district either have already voted for Curtis or plan to in the Aug. 15 primary that most counties are conducting largely by mail.
Herrod followed with the support of 23 percent of the voters polled, and Ainge had 15 percent. But just over one-fourth, 26 percent, said they remain undecided in the three-way race for the GOP nomination.
Curtis, who has held a double-digit lead in past polls, said he is "thrilled each day that our strong Utah-based, Utah-principled and Utah-funded campaign continues to grow."
Herrod campaign aide Ken Sumsion said Curtis' lead has fallen from previous polls because "Curtis is a Democrat, and Republicans are figuring that out." Curtis led the Utah County Democratic Party and ran for office as a Democrat years ago.
Sumsion said Herrod's internal polling shows him tied with Curtis, with Ainge trailing slightly.
Ainge's campaign spokesman, Peter Watkins, also said their internal polling tells a different story. Watkins said a robocall poll of 1,500 likely Republican voters put Ainge in the lead with 28 percent, Curtis at 25 percent, and Herrod at 22 percent.
"We feel confident our message of cutting taxes, cutting regulations and cutting spending in Washington, D.C., will resonate with voters," Watkins said.
The poll comes as well over $800,000 has been spent in the primary by so-called super political action committees supporting Herrod or Ainge. Their advertising, including TV and radio commercials, largely targets Curtis.
The poll was conducted Aug. 2-3 and Aug. 8 by Dan Jones & Associates for the online political news source of 447 registered Utah voters in the 3rd District and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent.
Only Republicans and unaffiliated voters who join the GOP at the polls on Election Day can vote in the primary. The poll's sample included 378 Republicans, 39 unaffiliated voters and seven Democrats.
Among just the Republicans polled, the race was tighter, with Curtis backed by 29 percent of those surveyed, Herrod by 25 percent and Ainge by 16 percent, again with 26 percent still not sure who they prefer.
There is no margin of error available for the smaller, GOP-only sample.
The primary will determine the Republican running in the November special election to fill the seat vacated June 30 by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, now a Fox News contributor, through 2018.
Candidates already on the November ballot include Democrat Kathie Allen and the new United Utah Party's Jim Bennett. The 3rd District includes parts of Salt Lake and Utah counties, as well as Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, and Wasatch counties.