Utah voters appear eager to step into next month's Super Tuesday shuffle.
A new Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll found 67 percent of eligible Utahns definitely plan to participate in the Feb. 5 presidential primary, while 17 percent probably will go to the polls. Only 12 percent said they definitely or probably do not intend to vote.
Utah is among 24 states that will hold primaries or caucuses as part of an election day so large it's now referred to in some parts as Super-duper Tuesday. But the Beehive State won't be the belle of the ball, with the likes of California and New York as well as several of the candidates' home states in the mix.
"Nothing that happens here will be decisive," said Todd Taylor, Utah Democratic Party executive director. "That said, we at least have a vote that counts, along with 20 other states. We are in the thick of it."
Utah has attempted in the past to make itself and the Rocky Mountain region more attractive to presidential hopefuls with the idea of a Western states primary. But the idea fizzled when states couldn't agree on how or when to hold the election.
Still, Utah Republican Party chairman Stan Lockhart said the lack of a front-runner this year makes every delegate significant.
"I think we have some influence in the process, unlike in previous years when we had a hard time even getting candidates to visit us," he said. "Those Utah delegates are every bit as important as those from any other state."
Of the 24 states voting on Super Tuesday, 15 have more total delegates up for grabs than Utah's 36 Republican and 29 Democratic.
While interest on paper is high, the number of voters actually won't be if the last Utah presidential primary is any indication. Voter turnout in 2000 was 10.1 percent, although that primary was held after the candidates for both parties had already been decided.
Of those surveyed in the Dan Jones and Associates poll who said they intend to participate next month, 65 percent will head to a Republican primary and 26 percent to a Democratic primary.
The GOP runs a closed primary, meaning only registered Republicans may vote. Unaffiliated or independent voters, however, may register at the polling place on Election Day.
The Democratic primary is open. Unaffiliated voters or independents may vote without registering with the party.
On the Republican side, Mitt continues to be it in Utah.
A whopping 78 percent of GOP voters polled intend to support adopted son Mitt Romney, up from what pollster Jones called an "almost unheard of" 65 percent in October.
And the latest numbers came before the former Salt Lake Olympics boss and one-term Massachusetts governor gained momentum with a primary win in his native Michigan.
All other candidates in the crowded but soon-to-be thinning Republican field could do no better than 3 percent among Utahns likely to cast ballots Feb. 5.
For the Democrats, Hilary Rodham Clinton has a decided edge over Barack Obama and John Edwards among Utahns planning to vote. Nearly half 46 percent are most likely to choose Clinton, 23 percent Obama and 9 percent Edwards, according to the Jones poll.
Those numbers for Clinton and Obama are the reverse of what they were in October. Three months ago, the Illinois senator had support of 42 percent of Utah Democrats compared to 18 percent for his Senate colleague from New York.
But in both cases, the number of respondents who identified themselves as Democratic voters is relatively small, making it hard to read anything into the results.Dan Jones & Associates surveyed 413 residents statewide Jan. 8-10. The margin of error was 5 percent.
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