Poll: Lee gets good favorable ratings from Utahns while Hatch is less popular

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has yet to start a 2018 re-election campaign, is still under water in his favorability ratings among Utahns, a UtahPolicy.com poll shows.

Forty-nine percent of Utahns hold an unfavorable opinion of Hatch, while 45 approve of him, finds UtahPolicy.com’s pollster Dan Jones & Associates.

Speculation still runs high in Utah political circles over whether Hatch, 83, will seek an unprecedented 8th term next year or retire.

By comparison, Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican as is Hatch, has a 53 percent favorability rating, while only 36 percent disapprove of Lee.

Jones finds that 4 percent have heard of Hatch, but have no opinion of him, while 2 percent have never heard of him.


With a 49-45 percent disapproval rating means Hatch is 4 percentage points under water – with more having an unfavorable opinion of him than have a favorable opinion.

Hatch’s position is slightly changed from Jones’ last poll, in March, which had Hatch at 48/46 percent unfavorable over favorable.

Just 16 months out from a November 2018 re-election, and it is certainly the case that Hatch is worse off politically among his constituents than in any of his previous re-election campaigns.

While Hatch continues to say he is, as of now, planning on running for re-election next year – unless his or his wife’s health deteriorates – in fact UtahPolicy has reported that Hatch is most likely to retire.

In fact, UtahPolicy.com has been told by several sources Hatch will announce his retirement in August or September, and that former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is likely to run for Hatch’s U.S. Senate seat next year.

Romney is now a Utah resident, and you may recall he stepped in to make the then-scandal-ridden Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games a success.

Still, Hatch is aggressively fundraising for his political campaign war chest, bringing in millions of dollars this spring and summer.

But Hatch is also fundraising for a so-called “Hatch Foundation,” which UtahPolicy has reported on previously.

Some speculate that should Hatch retire, he would spend his time on his new foundation – which could be housed in a local university.

In fact, Politico reports that Hatch in early August will hold a campaign fundraiser and a foundation fundraiser at an exclusive Park City hotel just days apart.

Here are some of Jones’ new favorable/unfavorable numbers for Hatch and Lee, and the comparisons are telling:

— Among Republicans only, Hatch has a 64-31 percent favorability rating, while Lee’s is 77-11 percent favorable over unfavorable.

That shows that nearly one-third of Utah Republicans – Hatch’s own party – have an unfavorable opinion of him. That is not good.

— Democrats dislike both men about the same. Hatch has an unfavorable rating of 82-13 percent; Lee’s is 82-9 percent among Utah’s minority party.

— Among political independents – Hatch has an unfavorable rating, 58-35 percent; Lee’s is unfavorable, 48-39 percent.

Neither Hatch nor Lee needs independent voters to win in very Republican Utah. But Lee has a 10-point advantage over Hatch’s independent rating.

— Here’s a very interesting number – Hatch’s favorable rating is 55-40 percent among those who self-identified as “very conservative” politically.

But Lee’s favorable among arch-conservatives is 86-8 percent. Wow!

Forty percent of Utah arch-conservatives don’t like Hatch – that is actually quite amazing for an incumbent Republican who has served longer in the U.S. Senate than any GOP senator in history.

And it shows that should Hatch run in 2018 he would clearly be vulnerable from a Republican challenger running against him from his political right.

Hatch’s popularity rebounds among those who said they are “somewhat conservative” – he has a 61-30 percent favorable rating, compared to Lee’s 66-18 percent favorable among the same group.

Moderates are split and liberals don’t like either man, but that is to be expected.

Among Utah Tea Partiers – the protest group that drove the late-Sen. Bob Bennett from office back in 2010 — Hatch’s favorables are split, 48-48 percent.

But Lee – who in his first term was described as a darling of the Tea Party movement – has a favorable rating of 90-5 percent. A big difference.

Thus, Jones’ numbers show Hatch has some problems with the right wing of the Utah Republican Party

Among those who told Jones they are “very active” Mormons, Hatch’s favorable is 61-34 percent.

Lee’s is 71-19 percent favorable. Both men are active Mormons.

In recent months, as Hatch has said that he is still needed in the Senate for this or that reason, one argument he’s used is that his church needs him there to protect religious freedom.

Still, Hatch’s active Mormon favorable rating is 10 percentage points behind Lee’s.

Jones polled 607 adults from May 31 to June 5. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent.