Poll: Utahns continue to give Gov. Gary Herbert high marks

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert continues to have a high approval rating, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds in a new survey that 64 percent of Utahns have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of the governor.

Only 32 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Herbert, now starting his 8th year in office.

Just 4 percent have heard of Herbert, but have no opinion of him, and 1 percent have never heard of him.

Back in December, Herbert favorables were 63-29 percent over his unfavorable.


These are numbers Sen. Orrin Hatch and the rest of Utah’s congressional delegation would love to have.

By comparison, in the same survey Hatch’s favorables are underwater – 46 percent approve of him, while 48 percent disapprove.

The other delegation members are just over 50 percent favorables.

Still, while Herbert leads the GOP pack (we have no Democrats in statewide office or federal office), Utahns are not loving their governors today as they have in the past.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, former Govs. Mike Leavitt, Olene Walker and Jon Huntsman Jr. saw favorability ratings in the 70th percentiles.

Clearly, Utahns are following the nation in not liking their top officeholders as they once did – or are a more cynical lot as especially the federal government has been an overall disappointment.

But by the standards of governors in other states today, Herbert is well-liked.

However, younger Utahns are not as enthralled with Herbert as are their parents and grandparents — Jones finds:

  • 18-24 year olds give Herbert a 56-29 favorable rating.
  • 25-34 year olds have a 57-35 percent rating.
  • While those 65 years and older really like the governor, giving him a 73-25 percent favorable rating.

Herbert has his detractors, especially among Democrats:

  • Members of the opposing party give Herbert a high unfavorable rating, 72 percent disapprove of him, only 22 percent like the Republican governor.
  • Political independents are split, 52 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove.
  • While fellow Republicans love the governor, 84-13 percent.

He clearly has no problems among his own party members, which may give Herbert leeway in pushing for tax reform/tax hikes in the coming months.

There is an education/business group – Our Schools Now – who are running a citizen initiative petition aimed at raising taxes for local public schools.

So far, Herbert opposes the group’s idea of increasing the personal income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, which would bring in $750 million more for schools each year.

Herbert is among GOP leaders who are pushing the group to, instead, pick the sales tax, or a combination of taxes, in their petition – which should be filed within the next few months.

Herbert’s new poll numbers show he could take a political chance – especially if he doesn’t run for office again in 2020 – and back a reasonable alternative tax hike for schools.

Like recent GOP Utah governors, Herbert is a faithful member of the Mormon Church.

And his poll numbers among Mormons reflect that:

  • “Very active” Mormons support him, 82-14 percent.
  • Those who self-identified to Jones that they are “somewhat” active in the LDS Church back Herbert, 63-28 percent.
  • Among Utahns who once belonged to the LDS Church, but no longer do, Herbert has 64-29 percent support.
  • Catholics don’t favor Herbert, 56-37 percent; but Protestants give him a favorable rating of 59-42 percent.
  • And those who said they have no religion don’t look kindly on Herbert, 70 percent give him an unfavorable rating, only 25 percent back him.

Jones polled 844 adults from March 22-29. The survey has a margin of error statewide of 3.37 percent.