Analysis: Tea Party Popularity Waning in Utah

Tea partySupport for the Tea Party in Utah – since its loud emergence in the 2010 State Republican Party Convention – has slowly been dwindling in the state, a compilation of Dan Jones & Associates polling over the last five years shows.

Jones first started asking about the Tea Party back in 2010 – when the group of mostly conservative Americans started showing their political muscle. At that time, he was polling for the Deseret News and KSL-TV.

In 2011-2012, Jones did some polling in the new 4th Congressional District – and asked about Tea Party support then.

He did similar 4th District polling in 2014 for

And since the first of this year Jones, in polling for, has regularly asked about Tea Party support as one of his standard demographic questions.

In the 2010 State GOP convention incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, finished third among the delegates – and so was removed from office.

It was a huge upset – with anti-Bennett GOP delegates cheering his defeat and jeering the outgoing incumbent.

Tea Party darling Mike Lee came out of that convention and won the GOP primary six weeks later – thus ensuring his election to the Senate in very-Republican Utah.

In a pre-primary June poll of more than 1,100 voters, Jones found that 33 percent of Utahns supported the Tea Party ideals; 41 percent opposed the Tea Party, and 21 percent were neutral on the new party’s ideals.

In a 2012 poll in the new 4th Congressional District, support for the Tea Party had crystalized some – only 16 percent of district voters said they support the Tea Party movement while 84 percent said “no,” they don’t support the Tea Party.

By this time the Deseret News and KSL were no longer doing regular polling with Jones – just one of the many consequences of the newspaper business being several harmed by the Internet.

No other media outlets were regularly polling then either. started doing Jones polling by 2014, and in the 4th District one survey showed that Tea Party had dropped further: Only 12 percent of district voters said they supported the Tea Party, 88 percent were opposed to it.

By 2015 Jones was regularly asking Tea Party support as one of his demographic questions.

And the polling shows Tea Party support fluctuating (as one would guess based on poll margin of error) within a small range – with between 7 percent and 13 percent saying they support the Tea Party across the state, between 93 percent and 88 percent saying they oppose the Tea Party movement.

Here is one definition of the Tea Party movement. While this is one “official” Tea Party web site.

Here is a list of some of the Tea Party groups in Utah – with the Washington County group one of the most active.

Jones, who has polled in Utah for around 40 years, says he sees Tea Party support now running around ten percentage points – give or take a few points.

“They have not, and don’t now, have one individual leading them statewide,” said Jones.

The Utah Tea Party has made one of its strongest stands locally on education. “They really don’t like No Child Left Behind, and they are very much against Common Core,” said Jones.

A part of the decline of the movement in Utah came with the federal government shutdown in October 2013.

“That shutdown was not popular at all in Utah,” said Jones.

In fact, the state spent around $23 million – yet to be reimbursed by Congress – in opening national parks in the state and keeping local economies alive during that time.

The Tea Partiers “do have around 10 percent to 12 percent support, but some of their tactics inside of the (Utah Republican Party) conventions have not gone down well,” said Jones.

Jones believes GOP gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson may well pull Tea Party support in 2016.

But Jones doesn’t think Johnson – “a very articulate and attractive candidate” – can get much more than 14 percent support next year just by appealing to Tea Partiers, and will have to expand his base beyond the Tea Party movement.

“But (Tea Partiers) should be strong supporters of him next year,” said Jones.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert initially supported Utah’s adoption of Common Core – which was put together by the National Governors Association, a group Herbert currently heads.

And Herbert was blind-sided by Tea Party/Common Core opponents in the 2012 state Republican Convention.

But Herbert still overcame that opposition in the convention and won his party’s gubernatorial nomination by getting more than 60 percent of the delegate vote.