McAdams’ job approval ratings dropped by double-digits during impeachment, new poll finds

Ben McAdams 02

Rep. Ben McAdams has seen his approval rating among 4th District voters drop 11 points since October of last year according to a new Utah Political Trends poll.

The News survey found 43% of likely voters in the 4th Congressional District approve of how McAdams is handling his job, while 40% disapprove, giving him a net positive approval of +3. 

20200210 QAPPROVAL McAdams

In October, 54% of 4th District voters approved of McAdams, while 30% disapproved.

During that time the Ukraine scandal exploded into public view and in December McAdams voted to impeach President Donald Trump. McAdams has been targeted with expensive advertising campaigns from outside groups both for and against his impeachment vote.

Kelly Patterson of Y2 Analytics says it’s reasonable to believe that McAdams’ stand on impeachment is taking a toll on how Utahns, mostly Republicans, view his job performance.

“The political climate has made individuals choose sides. The impeachment process sent powerful cues about which side an individual is on. It is interesting that much of the movement in the numbers for Rep. McAdams seems to be among the Republicans, who seem to be expressing less approval for the way in which he is handling his job,” notes Patterson.

“He seems to have received a bump from Democrats, but that is not nearly enough to offset some of the losses he experienced among Republicans. The direction of the losses also seems consistent with an impeachment story. The most partisan of the Republicans are the categories where Rep. McAdams’ approval ratings seemed to have eroded the most.”

20200210 QAPPROVAL McAdams Party

Accordingly, the percentage of “strong” Republicans who approve of McAdams’ job performance dropped from 28% in October to just 10% now. Approval from moderate Republicans fell 7 points. In October, 56% of independent voters who lean Republican approved of McAdams’ job performance, but that number is just 26% now, a drop of 30-points. 

The drop in approval rating could spell trouble for McAdams’s re-election prospects. He is considered one of the most endangered Democrats in Congress as he barely defeated Rep. Mia Love in 2018 by fewer than 700 votes. UT04 is the 91st “most Republican” in Congress according to the Cook Political Report, which gives the district a partisan lean of R+15, which means a Republican candidate would be expected to perform 15 points better than the national average for other Republicans.  

A previous News survey found 41% of likely voters in McAdams’ 4th District said they would vote for a Republican candidate if the election for Congress were today, while just 32% said they would support the Democratic candidate. However, it should be noted that no candidate names were used in that survey.

Rep. Chris Stewart, who was one of President Trump’s most ardent defenders during impeachment, did not reap much of a benefit from his steadfast support. Stewart did not see his approval ratings move at all from the October poll. 37% of 2nd District voters say they approve of Stewart’s job performance and 37% disapprove, which is essentially flat.

20200210 QAPPROVAL Stewart

20200210 QAPPROVAL Stewart Party

Patterson says most voters knew which way Stewart was leaning on impeachment.

“Rep. Stewart’s numbers reflect the reality of him being a ‘known commodity’,” said Patterson. “He has been a strident supporter of President Trump. There was no drama surrounding his decision. The electorate pretty much knows where he stands and has had ample opportunity to bake that into the assessment of his job performance.”

More troubling for Stewart is just over a quarter of voters in his district (26%) say they neither approve nor disapprove of his job performance, which suggests he’s still having trouble with his name ID despite being in his fourth term in Congress.

Rep. John Curtis has the highest net positive approval of all of Utah’s House members. 40% of voters say they approve of his job performance while 25% disapprove, which results in a net positive of +15. His approval is down four points from October. 

20200210 QAPPROVAL Curtis

20200210 QAPPROVAL Curtis Party

Rep. Rob Bishop, who is leaving Congress at the end of his term has not seen his approval numbers move much from October. 36% of voters in the 1st District say they approve of his job performance, which is up 2 points. Bishop recently joined Republican Thomas Wright’s campaign as his Lt. Governor nominee in 2020.

20200210 QAPPROVAL Bishop

20200210 QAPPROVAL Bishop Party

The Utah Political Trends survey was conducted January 16-30, 2020 by Y2 Analytics among 2,296 likely Utah voters with a margin of error +/- 2.1% points. You can read more about the polling methodology here.

(Editor’s note: The October 2019 survey from Y2 Analytics gave respondents a “don’t know” option, while the new poll from January included a “neither approve nor disapprove” choice.) recently partnered with KUTV 2News and Y2 Analytics and will be providing polling results on a regular basis throughout the election season. Y