If Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker fails to win a third term next week, blame the way the public perceives him.
According to the latest UtahPolicy.com survey, 56% of likely voters in Salt Lake City have a favorable opinion of Becker, while 44% have an unfavorable view. That’s a +12 net favorability rating. Not bad for a two-term incumbent.
However his opponent, Jackie Biskupski is viewed favorably by 70% of likely voters. Just 30% have an unfavorable view of her, which is a whopping +40 net favorability rating.
It’s going to be very hard for Becker to overcome that disparity.
These numbers suggest that the public is not so much dissatisfied with Becker’s job performance as they may be looking for a change in the Mayor’s office. That’s probably why Biskupski has taken a slight lead among likely voters in the latest head-to-head matchup.
Becker’s public image has likely suffered due to his admittedly poor handling of the ouster of former Police Chief Chris Burbank. That probably has more than anything to do with his relatively small ratings when compared to Biskupski. Becker is still struggling to explain why he decided to remove the very popular chief in the wake of a sexual harassment case in the Salt Lake Police Department.
To be fair, Biskupski has also said she would have taken steps to remove Burbank, but Becker is the one who made the decision, so he reaps the blowback.
Becker’s favorability numbers have trended downward among likely voters since our poll earlier this month. That survey found Becker with a +21 net favorable rating (56% positive/35% negative). That shows his negatives have risen by 9-percent in the past two weeks. At the same time, Biskupski’s net-favorable rating has gone up 3-points, while her overall favorable rating has gone up by 10-points.
When you look at the favorable/unfavorable ratings of the two candidates through the prism of party affiliation, the disparity becomes even more pronounced.
– 53% of Republicans have a favorable view of Becker while 45% view Biskupski favorably. – 63% of Democrats see Becker positively while a whopping 83% feel that way about Biskupski. However, 37% have a negative opinion of Becker while just 17% view Biskupski unfavorably. – 50% of independent voters have a favorable opinion of Becker while 69% have that view of Biskupski.
This suggests Becker is going to need Republicans to turn out for him in big numbers if he’s going to win a third term next week because Democrats and independents are breaking big-time for Biskupski.
Biskupski also outpaces Becker along gender lines.
– Becker has a +6 favorable rating among men (53% favorable/47% unfavorable) while Biskupski enjoys a +32 favorable rating (66% favorable/34% unfavorable) – Among women, Becker’s net favorable rating is +18 (58% favorable/41% unfavorable). Biskupski has a +48 net favorable (74% favorable, 26% unfavorable).
Any time an incumbent, especially one who has been in office for eight years, enjoys a net-positive favorability rating, it’s usually good news. The only time that cuts against them is when a challenger has an even higher rating among the public.