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Not surprisingly, Gov. Gary Herbert says Utah is on the right track — while most of his opponents say the opposite.

Herbert rates quality of life as "much better" than it was five years ago, while most of his opponents see it as worse.

And Herbert generally zigs when the others zag when questioned about how important 21 separate issues are, according to a study released Wednesday by the Utah Foundation, a non-profit research organization.

That is a follow-up to an earlier report it issued about what Utah voters see as the most important issues this election year. The foundation asked gubernatorial candidates the same questions as voters to see how their views compare.

It said seven of the 11 candidates who filed for governor chose to participate: Republicans Herbert, Jonathan Johnson and Nate Jensen; Democrats Vaughn Cook and Mike Weinholtz; Independent American Gary Van Horn; and unaffiliated candidate L.S. Brown.

Herbert chose not to participate in one section of questions that measured how conservative or liberal respondents are. His campaign manager, Marty Carpenter, said those series of questions asked respondents to choose between two statements, but he found that neither option accurately reflected his view — so he skipped them.

That section of question found that Johnson is "mostly conservative" and a bit to the right of most Republicans — while Jensen, Brown and Van Horn are "consistently conservative" and much further to the right than most Republicans and voters.

Meanwhile, Democrats Cook and Weinholtz were both "consistently liberal" and to the left of median Democrats.

Candidates were asked to rank how important they feel several topics are, between a "one" for "not at all concerned" to a "five" for "very concerned."

Following are how their ratings compared for the top five voter issues identified by polling:

Healthcare • Herbert listed that as only somewhat concerning with a two, as did Van Horn. Johnson, Jensen and Weinholtz gave it a "very concerned" five. Brown gave it a middle-of-the-road three.

Air Quality • Herbert and Cook gave it a four. Johnson, Weinholtz and Brown gave it a five. Van Horn rated it a three. Jensen gave it a two.

Education • Herbert gave it a middle-of –the-road three, as did Brown and Van Horn. Johnson and Weinholtz rated it a five. Jensen and Cook gave it a four.

State taxes and government spending • All Republicans and minor party candidates gave it a top-concern score of five. Democrat Weinholtz gave it a three, and Democrat Cook gave it a two.

Jobs and the economy • Herbert rated that a four. Cook gave it a two. Everyone else gave it a five.

The three Republican candidates jointly agreed to give a top-concern five rating to only two issues: state taxes and government spending, and public lands. They jointly agreed to give a four to immigration — and jointly agreed on no other topics.

The two Democrats jointly agreed to give a four to population growth and liquor laws, and a three to public lands — and jointly agreed on no other topics.

Herbert gave a rating of five to five topics, as did Jensen; Johnson gave it to 14 of the 21 topics; Weinholtz gave it to 15; Cook gave it to none; Brown gave it to seven; and Van Horn gave it to six.

The full study is available online at