Analysis: Support for Trump could be political Kryptonite for Republican congressional candidates in Utah

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You may recall that when former GOP 4th District Rep. Mia Love lost a really close race to Democrat Ben McAdams two years ago, President Donald Trump tweeted out that Love had not shown him much love, and that was the reason she lost.

Well, Trump was likely wrong.

Love was following her constituents and voters in not embracing Trump — and if the four GOP candidates seeking to challenge McAdams this year aren’t careful about how they react to Trump, they could be in the same Love boat this year.

Take a look at some of the Trump job approval ratings broken out in Utah’s four U.S. House districts in a recent 2News poll by Y2 Analytics:

In McAdams’ 4th District, 56 percent of voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. Forty-nine percent “strongly” disapprove of Trump — nearly half of all voters really disliking him.

Only 43 percent approve of the district voters approve of the president. And only 29 percent “strongly” approve of him.

Overall, that’s a negative 13 percentage point spread for Trump — disapproval over approval — not a good number at all.

Currently, all four of the GOP 4th District candidates support the president — former NFL player/motivational speaker Burgess Owens loves himself some Trump; Utah House Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, likewise strongly supports the president, “he’s a doer…”; and businessman Trent Christensen believes the president “has made the right moves…..”

Only former radio talk show host Jay McFarland wonders about the president, telling the Deseret News that Trump has used the presidential bully pulpit “to attack” people and institutions. McFarland calls himself a “moderate conservative” who doesn’t follow a party dogma, who thinks for himself.

But with a 13-point gap –most 4th District voters NOT liking Trump, any of the four Republicans would be unwise to tie themselves too closely to Trump in the final election against McAdams, Y2 polling shows.

Likewise, for 2nd District Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT.

There, Y2 finds, 55 percent of voters don’t like Trump, only 45 percent approving of the job Trump is doing.

However, Stewart has been one of the president’s strongest supporters — even in line, perhaps, for the top Trump post of director of national intelligence until the president was reminded that Stewart once called candidate Trump “our Mussolini” before Trump won the GOP presidential nomination back in 2016.

Stewart has been one of the president’s most loyal adherents, and likely won’t change in this election.

While Trump is clearly underwater in the 2nd District — which includes most of progressive Salt Lake City, where Trump is really disliked — overall the district is still very Republican. And Trump’s unpopularity there shouldn’t seriously affect Stewart’s re-election.

Utah’s 1st and 3rd Congressional districts are very red, and Y2 finds Trump popular in both areas:

In the 1st District Trump’s approval rating is 51-49 percent. Still, 42 percent “strongly” disapprove of the president in a seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, who is retiring from the House.

There are four GOP candidates seeking to replace Bishop as the Republican nominee –all strongly support the president, and whomever wins should coast to election in November.

In the Utah-County-based 3rd District Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, has been fairly quiet on the president.

But he really doesn’t need to be.

Trump has an approval rating of 54-46 percent in the 3rd District, the largest approval rating among the four Utah U.S. House seats.

All three Utah House Republicans voted against the Trump impeachment, while McAdams voted for it.

McAdams’ approval rating suffered late last year because of that vote, but has since rebounded. And McAdams today is the most popular of the four U.S. House members in the state.

Still, McAdams would be wise to stay away from the president in McAdams’ re-election this year. He needs most of the independent vote — around 60 percent — and even a few moderate Republicans in his corner if he is to overcome the naturally GOP-leaning 4th District.

And McAdams really doesn’t want to bash Trump, considering that 43 percent of 4th District voters still believe the president is doing a good job in the White House.

In determining the president’s job approval ratings, Y2 polled 243 voters in the 1st District from April 9-15, a margin of error of plus or minus 6.3 percent.

In the 2nd District, 296 voters were polled, margin of error plus or minus 5.7 percent.

In the 3rd District, 278 voters were polled, margin of error plus or minus 5.9 percent.

And in the 4th District, 277 voters were polled, margin of error plus or minus 5.9 percent.