Bob Bernick’s notebook: Trump’s unpopularity could hurt Utah Republicans in 2020


Bob Bernick


Could GOP President Donald Trump actually lose Utah next year?

Very unlikely.

But in a new Analytics poll published yesterday, Trump does poorly – only getting his base, which is around 40 percent in the Beehive State.

You can read about the poll results here.

Several of the Democratic presidential candidates are in a statistical tie with Trump, Y2 found.

And around 15 percent of voters – most likely Republicans who don’t like Trump – are holding out for a third-party candidate, to see if they could support that person.

Utahns haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

They haven’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office since the mid-1990s.

So, while it is likely that Trump will carry Utah next year, his clear unpopularity could well help Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, in what shapes up to be a close race in 2020.

And depending on who Democrats find to run against Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, in his 2nd District, Trump’s drag in Utah could make that race closer than it should normally be.

GOP Reps. Rob Bishop and John Curtis, in the 1st and 3rd districts, respectively, have kept Trump often at arm’s length.

But Stewart has embraced him – taking Trump’s side in some really weird arguments, denying Russian influence in the U.S. elections at first, then saying Trump-haters were out to get him in all areas of governance.

Stewart’s bromance with Trump has energized progressive/Democratic voters in Salt Lake City, who have made recent Stewart re-elections closer than they normally would have been.

As I pointed out in a Analytics poll analysis this week, Utah GOP and independent voters, especially in McAdams’ 4th District, seem to be willing to look at alternatives to straight Republican voting, willing to cross party balloting.

Trump is likely at the heart of all of this.

In some ways, I find it interesting (depressing?) that so many traditional Republican/LDS voters are still sticking with Trump.

He is so odious to so much that conservative Utahns have traditionally championed: compassion for others, especially those less fortunate; responsible federal spending and deficits; free trade; independent thinking; and, most of all, respect for the family, upholding marriage vows and overall moral conduct.

In the end, 2020 will be, like always, a mostly-Republican year in Utah.

Local GOP politicians are already repeating the national Republican mantra – “We hate socialism, and the Democrats are bringing that.”

We’re months away from the first Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses.

More than a year away from the final election.

A lot can change.

But Trump doesn’t appear to want to change his image. If anything, when he feels threatened, he strikes out even more, makes even more crazy tweets and accusations.

I don’t see Trump rehabilitating himself in Utah before the 2020 showdown.

How close will Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee want to get to Trump over the next nine months?

Will popular Republican Gov. Gary Herbert want to taint his legacy of decent governance by standing next to this man?

I remember when Trump once came to Utah, then 4th District GOP Rep. Mia Love stood so far away from him physically she nearly fell off the stage.

That didn’t help her.

The anti-Trump mid-term elections cost Love her House seat.

And as a paid commentator for CNN since her defeat, Love has not put up with many of Trump’s missteps, calling him out.

If only other Republican Utah politicians and voters could show such political strength and courage.

Our polls may show Trump isn’t doing well here. Could even be in trouble.

But in the end, the harsh partisanship of voters now a days will result in Utah towing the Trump line in 2020.