How important is Utah to the U.S. presidential election? Put it this way: Of the $166 million that presidential candidates spent nationwide through the end of March, a mere $9,053 of it was spent on campaigns in Utah.

That's five one-thousandths of 1 percent of the spending.In fact, Federal Election Commission reports show that only five candidates had spent any money on their campaigns in Utah during the period.

They ranged from the $23 reported by Democrat Michael Dukakis to $150 spent by Republican George Bush, $460 by Democrat Paul Simon, $1,082 spent by Republican Jack Kemp and $7,338 spent by Republican Robert Dole. Democrat Jesse Jackson and all other candidates reported spending nothing in the state.

Figures have likely increased somewhat since the March 31 ending date for that report. For example, remaining candidates Dukakis, Jackson and Bush likely spent several hundred dollars printing fliers for party caucuses here in April.

The commission requires candidates to keep track of how much they spend in each state in order to qualify for federal matching funds. The commission also limits how much they may spend in each state according to its population. The limit per candidate in Utah through the primary season is $461,000 - but no one has come near that figure so far.