More than half of Utah voters are dissatisfied with President Donald Trump’s performance in the White House, according to a Utah Political Trends Panel poll released Thursday.
Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they strongly disapprove of the president, while 9% were somewhat disapproving. The poll from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics sampled more than 2,600 voters between June 27 and July 17.
During that time, tensions between the United States and Iran escalated, the Trump administration announced that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would carry out mass arrests of migrants and Trump held a controversial Fourth of July celebration complete with tanks and other military hardware.
Late in the polling period, Trump posted a racist tweet suggesting that four congresswomen of color “go back” to their countries; three of those representatives were born in the United States, while the fourth became a citizen in 2000.
Kelly Patterson, a Brigham Young University political science professor who helped conduct the poll, said the Twitter controversy likely happened too late in the survey to make a significant impact on the results. But it’s unclear how much the uproar has changed opinions anyway, he said.
“The question you have to ask yourself is, to what extent are the tweets different or just more of the same?” Patterson said. “I think people have a pretty good sense of who [Trump] is and what he does, and sometimes voters might be a little surprised by the way in which the envelope gets pushed. But it’s not as if it’s a real change in course.”
A Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics survey in January found 54% of Utah voters would probably or definitely not vote to re-elect Trump in 2020. However, Patterson cautioned against comparing the two polls, since they posed different questions to respondents.
Adam Brown, another political science professor at Brigham Young University, said it’s unusual for a sitting Republican president to garner such poor approval ratings in conservative Utah, but he stressed that the polling results don’t mean the state will turn against Trump in 2020.
“What we’ve been seeing for the last couple of years is an awful lot of people don’t like his inflammatory rhetoric, they don’t like how he leads his personal life. But they sure like his judicial nominees,” Brown said. “That’s going to weigh on people’s minds.”
While Trump is still likely to bag Utah’s electoral college votes, his unpopularity could harm Republican candidates further down the ticket by dampening voter enthusiasm and lowering turnout, Brown said.
Nationally, Trump is enjoying some of the best job ratings of his term, averaging a 42.7% approval from mid-April through mid-July, according to Gallup. That’s about the same as the new Utah poll, in which 42% of participants voiced strong or partial approval of the president.
Patterson said the new Utah Political Trends Panel poll — like the national surveys — shows a slight bump in Trump’s popularity in the state compared to the rest of his term.
The new poll also showed that half of registered voters in the competitive 4th Congressional District expressed strong disapproval of the president, and another 9% were somewhat disapproving, according to UtahPolicy.com. Sentiments were similar in the 2nd Congressional District, where 58% of those surveyed registered strong or partial disapproval of Trump.
While those two districts expressed similar viewpoints on Trump, they voted very differently in 2018. The 4th District turned blue in last year’s election, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams narrowly beating two-term Republican Mia Love. On the other hand, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart sailed to an easy victory over his Democratic rival in the 2nd District.
Patterson said he wasn’t surprised that the two districts polled similarly on Trump, noting that each contains pieces of left-leaning Salt Lake County.
Forty-four percent of registered voters in the 1st Congressional District voiced disapproval of Trump, and 50% expressed disapproval in the 3rd Congressional District, the UtahPolicy.com report stated.
Trump’s approval rating in Utah has hovered around 50 percent since he took office, a low number for a Republican president in the deep-red Beehive State that has not voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And Trump’s election win in Utah fell short of a majority.
The margin of error for a survey of about 2,200 participants (the approximate number of people who completed the Utah Political Trends Panel poll) is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.