Poll: Hatch and Lee See Improving Approval Ratings

Mike Lee and Orrin HatchBoth Sen. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are enjoying strong approval ratings at the beginning of 2016 according to a new survey, which should fuel talk of another term in Washington for both men.

65% of Utahns say they either “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the job performance of Sen. Mike Lee while 26% disapprove.
Sen. Orrin Hatch enjoys a 59% approval rating while 36% say the disapprove of his job performance.

Those numbers come from a new Dan Jones & Associates survey of 845 adult Utahns, reached through live telephone calls (both landline and cell phone), and an online panel. The survey was conducted January 6-13, 2016.
Lee’s strong numbers are indicative of an improving public perception for Utah’s junior senator. In a July poll from last year, Lee only had 53% approval. That number has jumped 12-points in 6 months. The number of Utahns who disapprove of him has fallen by nearly the same amount, 11-points, in the same period.
These figures suggest Lee is a prohibitive lock to win a second term in Washington, but that wasn’t always the case. It was long thought that a high-profile Republican challenger would materialize this year. That didn’t happen, and Lee’s high approval ratings are reflective of his strong standing within the party. In fact, Lee’s numbers have improved in almost every category across the board:
  • Among Republicans, Lee has an 82% approval, which is up from 73% in July.
  • 60% of independents approve of Lee, an improvement from 41% in July.
  • Lee has even improved his standing among Democrats. In the latest survey, 25% approve of his job performance, 10-points higher than his July marks.
Lee is being challenged by Democrat Jonathan Swinton, a marriage counselor, in the 2016 election.
Hatch had also improved his approval rating from July when he got 48% approval and 46% disapproval. His latest marks are 10-points higher.
  • 73% Republicans approve of Hatch in the most recent poll, which is up slightly from the July numbers (71%).
  • Hatch’s approval numbers among independent Utahns is up 12-points from July. 52% in this group give Hatch a positive rating now compared to 40% in July.
  • Hatch’s approval among Democrats has nearly doubled in the last half-year. In July, 16% of Utah Democrats gave him positive ratings while 30% do so today.
When he was running for a seventh term in office in 2012, Hatch vowed it would be his last. Hatch still has three years left in this term but said in a recent interview with UtahPolicy.com that he has many people urging him to run for an eighth time when his current term expires in 2018. The improvement in his numbers will likely do nothing to dissuade him from considering another campaign.
You can see the improvement for both of Utah’s Senators in their net positive rating, which is measured by subtracting the disapproval rating fromt he approval. The chart below shows Lee is viewed much more positively by Utahns, but that gap has been narrowing since July. In fact, just six months ago Hatch’s net approval was a minuscule +4. That number has jumped 19-points in just six months time.

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.37%. The crosstabs are available below.