Utah majority disapproves of Trump's job performance, poll finds

By Lisa Riley Roche | Updated - Jul. 18, 2019 at 5:24 p.m. | Posted - Jul. 18, 2019 at 2:40 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than half of Utahns don't like the job President Donald Trump is doing in the White House, according to a new UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 53% of registered voters surveyed disapprove of the GOP president's job performance, including 44% who expressed strong disapproval even though Utah is considered one of the most Republican states in the nation.

Forty-two percent of Utahns polled do approve of Trump's job performance. That's a little less than the 45.5 percent of Utahns who voted for him for president in 2016, the lowest support of any state he won in the election.

"It doesn't show a lot of slippage but he has not gained support here," said LaVarr Webb, UtahPolicy.com publisher. "I do think it's important to point out that personally, I do not think this means he would not be reelected."

Don Peay, who led Trump's campaign in Utah and counts the president as a friend, predicted he'll will win more than 60 percent of the vote in Utah in next year's presidential election.

"Elections are about results, not popularity contests," he said, adding that even though Utahns may not "like his style," they'll look to his accomplishments in office, including a "strong economy. Power to the people. Draining the swamp."

Webb said many Utahns do continue to be put off by Trump, even though they may appreciate the president's conservative appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments.

"I think a lot of Utahns don't like his constant tweeting and demeaning other people. They question whether he is presidential in his bearing a lot of the time," Webb said. "I think his personal characteristics are a drag" on his popularity.

But that doesn't mean that when it comes down to the November 2020 presidential election, Utahns won't set aside their concerns and vote once again for Trump, according to Webb, particularly if the Democrats field a liberal presidential candidate.

Y2 Analytics partner Kelly Patterson said voters could also just sit out the election.

"What often happens when people are a little puzzled and frustrated by their choices is they sometimes don't vote," he said. "Before that happens, we'll have to see who the Democrats nominate and what the real tone of the campaign is."

Negative campaigns, Patterson said, "can demobilize voters just as easily as they mobilize them."

He said presidents often fall below a 50% approval rating at this point in their terms, with members of their own political party continuing to be more likely to support them.

In this poll, Utahns were split along party lines in their feelings toward Trump, with 87% of Republicans who labeled their party ties as strong backing him, compared to a 95% disapproval rating from similarly "strong" Democrats.

"If there's sort of a message in the numbers, that's probably it, that this is a very polarizing political environment and people are reacting to that," Patterson said. "It's the people who are in the middle who are being pushed one way or the other."

Trump "is very visible and has a certain style of politics that demands that voters either approve or disapprove," Patterson said. "His style asks people to make a choice. He puts it out there in language and on issues that asks people to decide."

The poll also showed that in the 4th Congressional District, now represented by Utah's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, the number of voters who disapprove of Trump's job performance hits 59%.

That may be good news for McAdams, who defeated Mia Love for the seat in 2018 by less than 700 votes, and has already been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Webb said.

The poll was conducted June 27-July 17 of 2,608 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percent, with a lower number of voters polled and a higher margin of error in the 4th District.

It is the first poll from a joint project of the online political news source and the survey research firm.

Lisa Riley Roche

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