Democratic President Barack Obama may well be the most unpopular U.S. president in Utah since James Buchanan.
Even though Obama recently signed executive orders aimed at keeping families of illegal immigrants together, and not broken up through deportation, his immigration actions are much, much disliked by most Utahns.
And while there is a partisan element to the president’s immigration decrees, the man’s unpopularity in the Beehive State goes beyond that, the new UtahPolicy poll by Dan Jones & Associates shows.
The survey finds that Utahns disapprove of Obama’s immigration actions 64 percent to 33 percent.
Forty-nine percent of Utahns “strong disagree” with Obama’s immigration executive orders, Jones found. Fifteen percent “somewhat disagree.”
Buchanan is the president who sent federal troops into Utah in 1857-1858 in what has been called the “Utah War.”
The U.S. Army was sent to put down what some anti-polygamists believed was a general Mormon uprising against the power of the U.S. government.
Thus the hatred of Buchanan by many Utah Territory residents back then.
Of course, there was no polling at that time – but one could imagine most Utahns’ opinions of Buchanan.
President Bill Clinton wasn’t much liked in Utah, either. Especially after he created the huge Grand Staircase Escalante National Park, without ever setting foot in Utah, back in 1996.
But Obama and Utah? No love lost there.
And breaking down Jones’ poll finds it is not all partisanship.
Yes, Utah Republicans really don’t like Obama’s immigration action – only 12 percent of the GOP agree with the president, 85 percent disagree.
And, yes, Democrats agree with their president – 78 percent agree with his immigration actions, 18 percent disagree.
But it’s the independents that break against him here – 53 percent don’t like Obama’s actions, 46 percent agree with him.
The overall opposition to Obama’s actions on immigration by Utahns reflect a real displeasure with the president, especially considering the LDS Church’s stand on illegal immigration as a whole.
Back in April, President Dieter F. Urchtdorf, second counselor in the Mormon Church’s First Presidency, met with Obama, along with other national religious leaders, in the Oval Office on the immigration issue.
And Urchtdorf, after the meeting, reiterated the Mormon Church’s stand on illegal immigration:
“In 2011 the Church publicly endorsed the principles of the Utah Compact as a responsible approach to dealing with the complex issue of immigration reform. The foundational principles on which the Church’s position is based are:
We follow Jesus Christ by loving our neighbors. The meaning of ‘neighbor’ includes all of God’s children, in all places, at all times.
We recognize an ever-present need to strengthen families. Families are meant to be together. Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society.
We acknowledge that every nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders. All persons subject to a nation’s laws are accountable for their acts in relation to them.”
Obama says the core of his executive immigration actions is an attempt to keep families of illegal immigrants together, and not deport parents of legal immigrants (by birth) or otherwise break up families.
And his executive orders may impact as many as 5 million families, keeping them together for the time being.
The Mormon Church’s statement that “families are meant to be together” seems to fit in that category.
But even Utah Mormons are against Obama’s immigration actions, Jones found in the new poll.
Asked do you agree or disagree with Obama’s immigration actions:
-- 20 percent of “very active” Mormons agree; 78 percent disagree.
-- 30 percent of “somewhat active” Mormons agree; 68 percent disagree.
-- 47 percent of “inactive” Mormons agree; 53 percent disagree.
-- 72 percent of Catholics agree; 27 percent disagree.
-- 46 percent of Protestants agree; 53 percent disagree.
-- And 70 percent of Utahns who said they have no religion agree with the president’s immigration actions; 30 percent disagree.
Republicans take control of both the U.S. Senate and House come the first of the year, and GOP leaders are looking for ways to block Obama’s immigration executive orders – saying they are unconstitutional.
Obama says his actions are legal, and points out that about every president in modern times, including Republican presidents, have issued immigration executive orders.