Bob Bernick’s notebook: Utahns don’t have much confidence in Congress or President Trump

UtahPolicy published a poll this week on whether Utahns think the United States and Utah itself are on the right or wrong track.

Our pollster, Dan Jones & Associates, does these questions periodically to measure just the general optimism/pessimism of the Beehive States’ citizens.

And you know something?

Utahns aren’t very happy about where this nation finds itself.

And this is with a Republican president; with a very Republican-voting Utah population.

The results give me pause.

While the stock market keeps going up.

While Utah leads the nation in a growing economy and such.

We are not where we need to be.

Under the heavy-handed federal government of today, a small state like Utah can only do so much on its own.

And its good that 62 percent of Utahns believe the state is on the right track.

But 56 percent of Utahns believe the nation is going the wrong way.

OK, 50 percent of Utah Republicans think the country is going in the right direction.

However, the U.S. Congress – both houses – and the presidency are controlled by Republicans, yet 37 percent of Utah Republicans say the nation is going in the wrong direction.

That’s more than one-third.

And 91 percent of Utah Democrats and 69 percent of independents say the nation is going the wrong way.

Any way you cut it, we don’t have much confidence in what GOP President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are doing.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who used to be one of the most admired and liked politicians in our state is underwater in his favorable ratings – more dislike the job he’s doing than approve.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, only has a 51 percent approval rating.

These are men/positions that used to get approval ratings in the high 60 percentile, or even in the 70th percentile in Utah.

Yes, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert and the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature get relatively good job approval ratings.

But one gets the feeling that they, too, may be one big political misstep away from Utahns turning on them, also.

Perhaps that’s why neither Herbert nor GOP state lawmakers are willing to consider any meaningful tax hikes for our clearly-under funded public schools.

It’ll take the Our Schools Now citizen initiative to settle that issue.

In fact, come 2018 we could have five or more citizen initiatives on the ballot – all because the Legislature and governor won’t directly address concerns citizens are anxious over.

Maybe some won’t get on the ballot – 113,000 voter signatures (with 10 percent in 26 of 29 state Senate districts) — is a high bar to vault.

Maybe some may make the ballot, but be voted down.

Still, the fact that there are such early support for issues like medical marijuana and legislative redistricting indicates a basic unhappiness – even distrust – of our Legislature and governor handling sensitive matters reflecting the will of the people they are supposed to be listening and responding to.

Mass shootings and no reasonable gun control/security answers.

U.S. soldiers getting killed in places we didn’t even know they were serving (Niger).

Uncertain healthcare for Americans and their children.

Where in the heck are we going?

Most in Utah say the wrong direction, at least across our country.

Utah itself is doing pretty good these troubled days, its citizens say.

But do we see the glass as half full or half empty?