Utah Republicans are typically in lock-step with Republican presidential nominees -think Mitt Romney in 2012. But this year Donald Trump has divided Republicans in the state.
Prominent Republicans have teetered this election between supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and condemning him for his lewd comments and brazen style. In the span of one month, Utah Governor Herbert has gone from saying this “I’m going to vote for Donald Trump and I’ll tell you why…” to this, “I’m not going to vote for Trump. I can’t vote for Hilary Clinton.”
Herbert said Trump’s comments about women in a 2005 audio recording were offensive and despicable. But Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz blasted Herbert, saying he reneged on his endorsement to save himself from political fallout.
Trump’s name is being used as political weapon by his opponents. Signs have cropped up around Salt Lake City that read “Herbert is Trump”. Weinholtz campaign officials deny making and distributing the signs.
GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz pulled his Trump endorsement after the lewd audio surfaced. But on Wednesday, Chaffetz declared he would vote for the Republican nominee after all. Republican Congressman Chris Stewart initially compared Trump to a fascist dictator, but also recently announced he would hold his nose and vote for Trump.
“I think in this election, we’ve seen that really in Utah for the first time, where being attached to a Republican nominee is being see as a negative,” said Matthew Burbank, political science professor at the University of Utah.
Burbank says the flip flopping will not likely cost Herbert, Stewart or other Utah Republicans an election. He’s more interested in how this political climate effects voter turnout.
“Trump has generated just a lot of controversy here. Some positive but most negative. That’s something which typically tends to increase turnout. On the other hand there is so much dissatisfaction with Trump as a candidate that it may have some depressing effects,” he said.
Burbank adds the Trump/Pence ticket is also likely to drive up voter turnout among Democrats.