Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who is retiring from office at year’s end, is underwater in her job approval rating from city voters, a new UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics survey shows.
Biskupski decided not to seek a second term after public and -- it is assumed, her private -- polling showed most city voters disapproved of her job performance and didn’t want her re-elected this year. She announced her retirement in the spring.
Tuesday, two candidates are vying for her job: Luz Escamilla, a state senator; and Erin Mendenhall, a sitting city council member.
A recent Utah Political Trends poll from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics shows that Mendenhall holds a double-digit lead over Escamilla.
The new job approval poll on Biskupski shows that 47 percent of city voters “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the job the mayor has done over the last four years.
But 53 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove.
Y2 didn’t give respondents the option of “don’t know,” so the approval/disapproval ratings add up to 100 percent, rounded up or down to 1 percent level.
Biskupski is the city’s second female mayor and the first openly gay mayor.
While Utah is solidly Republican overall, Salt Lake City itself is Democratic and progressive.
The mayor’s race is officially nonpartisan, and the candidates’ political party is not listed on the ballot.
But historically candidates have named their partisan leanings, and Biskupski is a Democrat, as are Escamilla and Mendenhall. In fact, city voters haven’t picked a Republican for mayor since 1970.
Mendenhall and Biskupski have had a number of political/personal scraps in recent years, and the mayor formally endorsed Escamilla several weeks ago.
But considering how unpopular the mayor is, that endorsement may turn out to be a two-edged sword for Escamilla, who is trailing in Y2 polling.
It appears, however, that at least some voters are aware of the endorsement.
Y2 finds that among Escamilla voters, Biskupski has a 52-48 percent approval rating.
While among Mendenhall voters, Biskupski is underwater, 57 percent disapprove of the mayor, 43 percent approve.
Gender plays a role in Biskupski’s approval ratings: Women like her, 51-49 percent, but men disapprove of the mayor, 57-43 percent.
In general, younger city voters like Biskupski, middle-age and older residents don’t, the poll shows.
She is seen as a liberal, progressive politician, and that is reflected in partisan feelings, as well:
-- “Strong” Republicans and “strong” conservatives dislike her, 68-31 percent and 77-23 percent, respectively.
-- Independents and moderates dislike her, 65-35 percent and 51-49 percent, respectively.
-- While “strong” Democrats and “strong” liberals approve of the mayor, 57-43 percent and 54-46 percent, respectively.
Even though she is liked by the partisan Democrats and liberals, others in the city dislike Biskupski by such large majorities that overall she doesn’t get above a 50 percent approval rating, which is kind of the standard set by other Utah politicians.
Finally, the city is the home/headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Biskupski is not LDS. And the church has some issues inside of the LGBTQ community, which is significant in the city.
Accordingly, those who said they are “very active” in the LDS Church don’t like the mayor, 62-37 percent.
She does better among non-Mormons and those who said they have no religion.
Among those who said they have no religion, 52 percent approve of her, 48 percent disapprove.