Poll: Utahns Want Mike Lee to Continue to Defy GOP Leadership

Sen. Mike Lee is often at odds with Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate. Most Utahns say they prefer that maverick approach to governing. 

59% of Utahns tell us they want Lee to continue challenging Republican leadership in Washington. Just under 1/3 (29%) say they would like Lee to be more of a team player.

Lee has rankled Republicans on numerous occasions. He helped lead the 2013 government shutdown that lasted for 16 days. More recently he angered Senate leadership by using a procedural maneuver to try and force a vote on federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He attempted to attach the measure to kill funding for the organization to a federal highway funding bill. That effort ultimately failed.
Even though Utahns appreciate Lee's independent streak, they don't think he's as effective as Utah's senior Senator Orrin Hatch. A previous UtahPolicy.com survey found 36% of Utahns thought Hatch was Utah's most effective Senator while just 28% said Lee. However, a majority of Utahns who describe themselves as "very conservative" said Lee was most effective as did Utahns who said they were members of the Tea Party.
Lee does enjoy higher approval ratings among Utahns than Hatch. 53% of Utahns approve of the job Lee is doing in the Senate while just 48% approve of Hatch's performance.
Utah Republicans and independent voters appreciate Lee's nonconformist approach to governing. 64% of Republicans and 60% of independents say Lee should continue to challenge Senate leadership. Surprisingly, only a plurality of Democrats (45%) say Lee should continue to be a team player in Washington while 35% say he should continue to rankle the GOP leadership.

Utahns who are part of the Tea Party, as well as those who are not, also say Lee's contrarian streak is attractive. Not surprisingly, a big number of Utahns who say they are part of the Tea Party (86%) approve of Lee's contrarian tactics. Additionally, a majority of Utahns who are not part of the small-government group (55%) also are on board with Lee's approach.

The strong support among Tea Party backers is not surprising. One of the nation's largest Tea Party groups, the Tea Party Express endorsed Lee's re-election in December of 2013, more than three years ahead of his 2016 bid.
While many expected Lee to draw a Republican challenger for the 2016 nomination, those threats never materialized as expected candidates like Josh Romney and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright declined to launch a bid to challenge Lee. 
That doesn't mean Lee is not facing an opponent next year. Democrat Jonathan Swinton, a marriage counselor, has announced he will be challenging Lee in 2016.
Our survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from August 7-14, 2015 among 500 adult Utahns. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.99%.