GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s job approval ratings have shot through the roof, a new poll shows, no doubt because of his leadership in the state’s fight against the coronavirus.
Y2 Analytics finds 69 percent of Utah voters either “strongly” or “somewhat” approve of the job Herbert is doing as governor. Thirty percent disapprove of the governor, the survey conducted for UtahPolicy.com and KUTV 2News finds.
A public official’s job approval is very good at 60 percent, and Herbert is nearly at 70 percent.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s approval rating is on the plus side, with 55 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” approving of the job he’s doing, 24 percent disapproving of how he’s doing, with a surprisingly-large 21 percent having no opinion of Cox.
It’s surprising because Cox has been running for governor for more than a year and Herbert, who is retiring, has put him in charge of the state’s coronavirus-fighting, with Cox in high-profile positions and often on TV.
Y2 Analytics finds the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature is underwater in its approval rating, 51 percent of voters disapprove of the job the Legislature is doing, only 44 percent approve, with 4 percent saying they don’t know.
Herbert and Cox are Republicans, and Republicans hold super-majorities in both the state House and Senate.
So it figures that Republican voters would approve of how their state leaders are doing:
84 percent of “strong” Republicans like the job Herbert is doing; Cox comes in at 68-13 percent approval, with 19 percent “don’t know;” and the Legislature has a 64-30 percent approval rating among this group.
Again, it’s a bit of a surprise that a fifth of “strong” Republicans don’t have an opinion of Cox.
Political independents like Herbert, 58-40 percent; they like Cox, 45-26 percent, with 30 percent “don’t know;” while they really don’t like the Legislature, 64 percent saying they disapprove of what that body is doing.
And “strong” Democrats disapprove of Herbert, 44-56 percent; are split on Cox, 40-41 percent, with 19 percent “don’t know;” and really, really don’t like the Legislature, 82 percent saying they disapprove of that body, only 16 percent approve.
Still, Herbert getting a 44 percent approval rating from Democrats and a 58 percent approval from independents shows real strength across party lines, something the governor should be proud of.
Of course, you don’t fight the coronavirus along political lines, one would hope. Still, the governor is doing well outside of his GOP base.
Back in October 2019, Herbert had a 58 percent approval rating across the state -- somewhat lower than he was used to over the years.
But things only got worse for Herbert: In December the GOP-Legislature approved, and the governor signed, a broad-reaching tax reform law -- one that would have raised the state sales tax on food.
A citizen repeal-the-tax-reform movement sprang up. The second day of the 2020 general legislative session, lawmakers repealed the law, with Herbert’s blessings.
A Y2 poll at the first of the year found Herbert’s approval rating dropped to just 50 percent, down 8 percentage points since October.
But now most Utahns are back in Herbert’s corner again, the new poll finds.
The poll was finished before the riots in downtown Salt Lake City, where Herbert called out the national guard, and before UtahPolicy.com broke the story that Herbert had met with GOP gubernatorial candidate Thomas Wright, asking him to get out of the governor’s race and support Cox -- whom Herbert strongly supports.
If, or how, those events may have shaped the public’s opinion of Herbert must wait for a future Y2 survey on the popularity of the state’s top officeholders and institutions.
Y2 polled 1,090 voters statewide from May 9-15; margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points.