Copyright 2012 Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — About the only surprise in a new Deseret News/KSL poll on the outcome of the presidential race in Utah is the size of Mitt Romney's lead.
Romney has the support of 69 percent of Utah voters surveyed by Dan Jones and Associates, including 67 percent who say they definitely plan to vote for the GOP nominee, a Mormon who served as the leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
President Barack Obama is backed by 26 percent of the poll respondents. In 2008, Obama finished stronger in Utah than any Democratic presidential candidate since 1968, with a little more than 34 percent of the vote, winning in Salt Lake, Summit and Grand counties.
But Obama was running against Arizona Sen. John McCain four years ago, not Romney. The new poll found only 2 percent of Utah voters hadn't made up their minds yet and just 3 percent were backing other candidates.
A total of 870 Utah voters statewide were questioned Oct. 26-Nov. 1. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.
Utah State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said while Democrats recognize they're facing a "Romney tsunami" this year, the minority party continues to hope for the best.
"The truth is that Mitt Romney is a favorite son. Mitt Romney is the guy," Dabakis said. "This is historic. We get it. We understand, and we hope people look down the rest of the ticket."
Democrats are concerned about Romney's supporters voting a straight GOP ticket. But Dabakis said it would be "a great moral defeat" if Romney ends up with less than 70 percent of the vote.
Utah State GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said Romney being at the top of the ticket has energized party members to vote who otherwise might have skipped the election.
"It's going to have a huge effect. People trust Mitt Romney. They know him. They've seen what he can do," Wright said. "That helps candidates down ticket."
Wright said Republicans expect Romney to end up with as much as 75 percent of the vote, but "any win is a good win."10 comments on this story
The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Utah was President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. It was his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, who ended up with 37 percent of the vote in Utah in 1968.
Dabakis said he's not counting on Obama doing as well in Utah as he did in 2008.
"This is a whole different year," he said. "And frankly, our emphasis has not been on the presidential race."
Romney was last on the ballot in Utah in the 2008 Republican primary. He easily won that race with nearly 90 percent of the vote.