Poll finds Utahans prefer Romney to Huntsman by wide margin

Utah voters prefer former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. by a margin of more than 2 to 1, a new poll found.

The Deseret News/KSL-TV poll found that 56 percent of Utahans would vote for Romney for president, and just 26 percent would vote for Huntsman.

Even worse for Huntsman, he lags even further behind Romney among Republicans: Seventy-two percent said they would vote for Romney, while just 15 percent would vote for Huntsman.

Utah is a significant state for Huntsman and Romney, as both possible GOP presidential contenders are Mormon, and both attended college there.

The poll reflects a number of obstacles Huntsman faces if he decides to run. Last month he announced his resignation, effective at the end of April, as the Obama administration's ambassador to China — a position some have said automatically kills any chance he has at winning the GOP nod.

Moreover, as governor, Huntsman took unpopular positions among conservatives on hot-button issues like climate change, civil unions and immigration.

That Huntsman trails Romney so badly, especially at time when the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law is so unpopular among conservative voters, is somewhat surprising. As Massachusetts governor, Romney implemented a state-run healthcare plan and individuals were required to have insurance, as is the case with Obama’s plan.

When Romney ran for president in 2008, he won the GOP primary in Utah with 90 percent of the vote.