Washington • A new poll shows that among the states, Utah has recorded the most dramatic drop in approval for President Donald Trump.
The poll, conducted by the news outlet Morning Consult, surveyed voters in every state and compared it with the numbers from when Trump took office in January 2017. The president’s support has declined nationwide, but in only three states — Utah, Arizona and New Mexico — has Trump gone from at least 50 percent approval to a majority disapproval.
In Utah, about 58 percent of residents approved of the president when he was inaugurated but now 50 percent oppose him. Only 45 percent still back the president, the survey shows. Morning Consult created a net change rating, adding the drop in approval to the rise in disapproval. Utah scored a 32, the highest of any state, and something the White House occupant probably wouldn’t be happy to see in one of the reddest states in the union.
“Trump’s presidency has been largely about what people are willing to overlook for what they think is most important,” said Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “Right now we are seeing that even with a conservative Supreme Court nominee, new trade deals and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, the balance has shifted in the minds of many voters as they react to some of the president’s more controversial qualities.”
Utah has never been Trump territory.
His 45 approval rating matches the 45 percent of the vote he took in Utah during the 2016 presidential election, with Democrat Hillary Clinton holding 27 of the vote and independent Utahn Evan McMullin, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former CIA agent, taking 21 percent — the anti-Trump, anti-Clinton crowd.
The Morning Consult poll shows that the District of Columbia — a Democratic haven where 90 percent of voters supported Clinton — Illinois, New Mexico and New York had the next highest net rating changes, all with a 31 percent drop since the inauguration.
The president’s poll numbers have declined in every state since he took office, the poll shows, with the lowest net rating change at eight in West Virginia and Alabama where he still commands an approval rating about 60 percent, the Morning Consult poll shows.
In Utah, where Trump has hovered around 50 percent approval rating for most of his presidency, voters are not so sure about the president. And one recent poll found that 57 percent of voters said Trump doesn’t deserve a second term. The president’s troubles have been cited in two House races in Utah.
Rep. Mia Love, a two-term congresswoman representing the 4th District, is trying to fend off a challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams, the mayor of Salt Lake County. The Cook Political Report recently called the race a “toss up" in part because the district doesn’t approve of Trump. And Democrat Shireen Ghorbani has performed better than expected in Utah’s 2nd District race against Rep. Chris Stewart. Perry says in that 2nd District race, there’s been “a Trump factor.”
Utah House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, says the Morning Consult poll numbers speak more to Trump’s approach to the job as much as his actual performance. His bombastic style doesn’t resonate well with Utahns even if some of his policy moves may be best-sellers in the conservative state.
“Maybe you can say the honeymoon is over because it’s a pretty clear trend-line down,” King said in an interview.
Trump will continue to have good support from his base of voters, King says, but he’s not likely to win back some who can’t get over some of his rhetoric and attitude. King noted specifically the president ridiculing Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist who has accused newly confirmed Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, during a rally last week in Mississippi.
“That doesn't fly well anywhere,” King said. “I think it flies the least well in Utah. We put a high value in being decent to each other.”
The Morning Consult poll, which has conducted some 1.6 million interviews since Trump was inaugurated, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points for the most recent poll, and a 6 percent margin for the survey in 2017.