Poll: Utahns Divided on Public Lands Lawsuit

icons V1 13Utahns are split over whether the state should spend $14 million suing the federal government to take control of millions of acres of federal land within our borders, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds in a new survey that 43 percent of Utahns support spending the money in the lawsuit, 48 percent oppose and 9 percent don’t know. 

Legislative Democrats have been lambasting the GOP majority in the House and Senate for pursuing the lawsuit – which would be the first of its kind and likely would have to go to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision.

Thus the high cost of litigation.

Republican lawmakers are uniformly for the expenditure, saying if Utah is successful getting control of the federal lands it would likely mean hundreds of millions of dollars over time for Utah public schools.

And both the minority and majority know the beliefs of their political bases, Jones finds:

  • 58 percent of Utah Republicans favor spending the $14 million, 31 percent of Republicans disapprove and 11 percent don’t know.
  • 81 percent of Utah Democrats oppose spending the money, only 15 percent favor it, and 5 percent don’t know.
  • Political independents are against the expenditure, 61-34 percent, with 6 percent undecided.

Many GOP legislators will soon go before their Republican Party delegates in re-election this year.

And a previous Jones poll of GOP state delegates, when compared to rank-and-file Republicans, finds the delegates are more conservative than grassroots members of the GOP.

Thus, it may matter to Republican lawmakers that 69 percent of those who told Jones in the new survey they are “very conservative” politically favor spending the $14 million trying to regain federal lands, promised to Utah at statehood.

A fourth of the “very conservative” Utahns oppose spending the money that way.

Finally, Utah getting control of federal lands in the state is not necessarily a moral or religious issue.

But the predominant LDS faith does teach the faithful that they should be good stewards of the land and that the earth is given by God for Man’s use.

Jones finds that 53 percent of “very active” Mormons favor spending the $14 million to get the federal land, 39 percent oppose.

Catholics oppose spending the money, 62-33 percent. Protestants oppose the expenditure, 63-32 percent.

And those who told Jones they have no religion oppose spending the money, 69-17 percent.

Jones polled 625 adults from Feb. 10-15. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.92 percent.