Utah House Members Don’t Get a Lot of Love (Even Love Herself)

None of Utah’s four U.S. House members have very good “favorability” ratings, a new UtahPolicy poll shows, although many survey respondents have no opinion.

Low ratings could give courage to possible challengers next year under new candidate election processes.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is in the worst shape, with less than half of his registered voters giving him a “favorability” ranking above 50 percent – a benchmark the three others barely reach. Stewart has the highest number of constituents who have no opinion or haven’t heard of him.

Freshman Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, is still suffering some bad opinions of her – nearly 40 percent of her voters have an “unfavorable” opinion of the new House member.

Historically, Utahns have liked their elected officials – giving their most popular officeholders ratings above 70 percent.

But even Utahns, apparently, are fed up with the U.S. Congress – which collectively has one of the lowest ratings ever seen in the United States, various national polls show.

Here are the favorable/unfavorable ratings in the new Dan Jones & Associates survey (all four of Utah’s U.S. House members are Republicans):

— Rep. Rob Bishop, 1st District: 51 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable, 18 percent have heard of Bishop, but have no opinion of him, 4 percent never heard of him.

— Rep. Chris Stewart, 2nd District: 45 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable, 22 percent heard of him, but no opinion, 14 percent never heard of him.

— Rep. Jason Chaffetz, 3rd District, 53 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable, 9 percent heard of him but have not opinion, 10 percent never heard of him.

— Rep. Mia Love, 4th District, 52 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable, 9 percent heard of her but no opinion, 0 percent never heard of her.

Jones polled only registered voters in each of the four districts, so only constituents of the four U.S. House members rated their congressperson.

The margins of error for each district: 1st District, plus or minus 7.17 percent; 2nd District, 6.83 percent; 3rd District, 7.07 percent; and 4th District, 6.83 percent.

All four, of course, do better among GOP voters:

— Bishop, 67-14 percent favorable over unfavorable among Republican voters.

— Stewart, 69-6 percent.

— Chaffetz, 75-12 percent.

— Love, 78-11 percent.

Bishop, Stewart and Chaffetz are in safe GOP districts. They win general elections rather easily.

Only Love, the first African-American GOP woman elected in U.S. history, could have tough re-elections ahead.

She needs independent voters to win in the general election. And Jones finds that among independent voters her favorability rating is 44 percent, her unfavorability stands at 40 percent.

Love lost a very heated race four years ago to then-Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

Outside groups for and against both candidates flooded Utah with negative TV and radio ads, driving up the negatives of each candidate.

Those hard feelings were clearly still around when Love won the open seat in November 2014.

She’s kept a low profile since taking office.

But Love still has high unfavorables – as the latest Jones’ poll shows.

Which means she could be vulnerable if the right Democratic candidate comes after her next year.

Salt Lake City was once again carved up in the Legislature’s 2011 redistricting, ensuring that most city residents, who are Democrats or moderate independents, would have a Republican U.S. House member.

And Jones’ new poll shows that Stewart is not much favored among his Salt Lake County constituents: 30 percent of SL County 2nd District residents have a favorable opinion of Stewart, 27 percent unfavorable, 29 percent have heard of Stewart but have no opinion of him, and 13 percent have never heard of him.

In 2016, for the first time, the four GOP House incumbents could see a challenger(s) that take the new SB54 alternative route to the Republican Party’s primary ballot – and not go before the usually conservative party delegates in convention.

That means more moderate Republicans could try to knock off the incumbent in the primary – and could have a real shot if the challenger can self-fund his or her primary campaign.

However, any incumbent has great advantages in fund raising, which is especially difficult in a primary race.

Being a relatively unknown incumbent is a disadvantage in such a scenario.

Even though he has been in office 13 years, Bishop still has 22 percent of his voters who either have heard of him, but have no opinion, or have never heard of him.

Stewart, first elected in 2012, but who has kept a rather low profile, finds that 36 percent of his voters have either never heard of him, or have heard of him but have no opinion, Jones finds.

Chaffetz, who one must admit is a TV hound, often taking high profile, partisan positions, finds that 9 percent of his 3rd District voters have heard of him, but have no opinion, and 10 percent have never heard of him (as hard as that may sound).

Love’s recent two high profile races have made an impact – if a divisive one. Nine percent of Love’s district voters have heard of her, but have no opinion. And believe it or not, all the 92 4th District voters polled by Jones had at least heard of Love, even if a few had no opinion of her.

So she is very well known in her district.