Utah’s give Reyes good approval ratings, but he still struggles with name ID

Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is doing OK in his approval ratings, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows.

But if he’s planning on running for governor in two years, he needs to become better known statewide, a new survey by Dan Jones & Associates finds.

Jones’ numbers show:

  • 56 percent of Utahns “somewhat” or “strongly” approve of the job Reyes is doing as attorney general.
  • 16 percent disapprove of him.
  • And a substantial 28 percent don’t have an opinion.

That’s a rather high “don’t know,” considering that Reyes has been AG since late 2013.He was appointed by the Utah Republican Party when former AG John Swallow resigned in late November 2013, less than one year in office.


Swallow had beaten Reyes in the 2012 GOP primary, and part of the complaints against Swallow was some of his improper campaigning that year.

So, Reyes has been on statewide ballots in 2014 (to fill out Swallow’s term) and 2016 – and has won the office handily each time.

But running for governor, and winning the GOP nomination, is a different animal – more expensive, higher profile.

Jones finds that 22 percent of men – or about a fifth – don’t have an opinion of Reyes, and so don’t know much about him.

But 35 percent of women – or more than a third – don’t have an opinion of him.

That despite one of Reyes’ main job efforts has been fighting the sex trafficking of women and girls inside and outside the state.

Most likely, the next GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2020 will be on the conservative side of the Utah Republican Party – or at least try to sell himself or herself to party loyalists as such.

Among Republicans, Reyes has a 67-5 percent approval rating – certainly good.

But, again, 29 percent of Utah Republicans don’t have an opinion of him – which means they don’t know him.

Democrats disapprove of Reyes, 44-29 percent, with 26 percent having no opinion of him.

Political independents – and he will need some of their votes if he wants to win the governorship – give him a 54-17 percent approval rating, with 28 percent not knowing who he is.

Among those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically, Reyes’ approval rating is 69-4 percent, with 26 percent not knowing who he is.

Among those who are “somewhat conservative,” Reyes’ approval rating is 66-6 percent, with 27 percent not having an opinion of him.

Reyes’ office, in defending the SB54 law allowing a dual-path to candidates to get on the party primary ballot, has been very successful – winning two federal court decisions, a Utah Supreme Court decision and a party appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now, that is just Reyes doing his job – defending the state in a lawsuit.

But some hardliner conservatives – especially some GOP 2020 state delegates – may hold Reyes accountable for beating their party in court so many times.

We’ll see.

If Reyes forgoes the 2020 gubernatorial race, and instead seeks election for a third time to the AG’s post, it is difficult to see from here that he could be beaten – since he won in 2014 and 2016 so easily.

Jones polled 609 adults from Feb. 9-16. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.