What do Utahns think of Mitt Romney and Mike Lee?

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s two senators aren’t faring well in their home state.

Neither Sen. Mike Lee nor Sen. Mitt Romney, both Republicans, have approval ratings above 50% in the latest Y2 Analytics poll for UtahPolicy.com.

Romney, who has made headlines the past couple weeks for his criticism of President Donald Trump, has 46% approval rating among Utahns — 16% strongly approve and 30% somewhat approve. The polls say 51 percent strongly or somewhat disapprove, while 4% don’t know.

The two-term Lee does a little worse.

The survey shows 43% of residents approve — 20% strongly, 23% somewhat — of the job he is doing, while 47% disapprove and 11% don’t know.

LaVarr Webb, UtahPolicy.com publisher, found the results a little surprising given the state’s affinity for Republicans.

“I think these are low approval ratings for Utah’s top members of Congress,” he said.

Still, Webb doesn’t think either Lee or Romney are in any trouble with voters come reelection time. Lee would be up in 2022 and Romney in 2024.

Both Lee’s and Romney’s offices declined to comment on the poll.

Webb attributed the senators’ poor showing to Utahns’ “general disgust” with dysfunction and gridlock in Washington.

“It’s just a really difficult time we live in. Congress reflects the divisiveness, so when asked whether we approve or disapprove of someone’s performance, I think that’s reflected in that as well,” he said.


Nevertheless, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, rated higher among voters than the state’s three other U.S. House members, all Republicans.

A UtahPolicy.com poll released week showed 54% of 4th District voters approve of how the freshman congressman is handling his job. Approval ratings for the three Republicans weren’t higher than 45%.

“He’s been very careful to stay in the middle,” Webb said of McAdams, adding he hasn’t been in Congress long but he was well-liked as mayor of Salt Lake County.

The latest poll of 979 registered voters was conducted Sept. 25 to Oct. 8, just after Romney blasted Trump for asking China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. It finished up the day after Romney condemned Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. The poll has a plus or minus 3.1 percentage points margin of error.

Lee disagreed with Romney over pulling the military from Syria. He applauded the decision, saying Congress never authorized troops to be there in the first place.

According to the poll, Romney did best with voter who identified themselves as either “not strong” Republicans or “not strong” Democrats. Republicans in that group gave him a 71% approval rating, while he came in at 65% with Democrats. Only 40% of “strong” Republicans approve of Romney’s performance, the polls shows.

Lee made his mark with “strong” Republicans, 72% of whom like the job he is doing. Independents who lean Republican also like Lee, giving him a 70% approval rating, according to the poll. Democrats had no love for Lee regardless of how they identified themselves.

The margin of error for subgroups ranges from plus or minus 6.2 to 16.8 percentage points.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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