During the recent debt ceiling fight, Utah Sen. Mike Lee took a strong stand against the final agreement, arguing it did not go far enough to reduce debt and failed to “tackle the root causes of our fiscal woes.”

Lee made national news when he threatened to use “every procedural tool” at his disposal to stall the agreement.

Lee’s stand and message likely resonated with his voting base. A majority of Utah Republicans, 65%, say they either strongly or somewhat approve of Lee’s performance as a U.S. senator, according to the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

The poll was conducted in the last days of May, just as the debt ceiling debate was in its final throes.

Lee remains especially popular among very conservative Utahns, with 86% of these voters saying they approve of Lee’s performance.

Among all Utah voters, Lee has a 45% approval rating, with 45% of Utah voters expressing disapproval, according to the poll.

The poll was conducted among 798 Utah registered voters from May 22-June 1. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percentage points.

Lee’s approval has not shifted much since we last asked Utah voters this question in March. His support has remained consistent among conservative voters, while liberal voters have been consistent in their disapproval. Among self-described very liberal voters, 89% say they disapprove.

Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said he was unsurprised by these numbers, given that Lee is a conservative Republican.

“For Sen. Mike Lee, he is appealing to conservative voters. They’re the ones who have sent him back time and time again, and he continues to have their support,” Perry said. “The fact that he has 92% disapproval from Democrats is not a major concern for him.”

The same percentage of Democrats disapproved of his performance in the March poll.

Perry sees in Lee’s polling numbers evidence of a broader national trend.

“We live in very polarized times, and as we get ready for this next presidential election that’s unlikely to change. People like their candidate a lot, and they dislike the other candidate a lot,” he said. “We’ll see how that affects voter participation not just in the primary but in the general election.”

Besides liberals and Democrats, Lee also struggles with his approval among young voters, with only 26% saying they somewhat approve of his performance; 29% of self-described moderates give the senator a positive review.

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Lee played a prominent role in debt ceiling talks. He rallied 43 Republican senators to sign a letter saying they would not pass a so-called “clean” debt ceiling bill that raised the amount of money the nation could borrow without spending cuts or structural changes.

The final agreement included both spending cuts and structural changes, but Lee said it provided too many workarounds for the Biden administration, and he expressed frustration that the bill did not include the REINS Act, which would give Congress the power to review some rules made by federal agencies before they take effect.

Lee, along with other Republicans, thinks Congress has ceded too much control to the “administrative state” — the federal bureaucracy that sets rules based on legislation or executive action.

Congress has recently tried to overturn some of these rules, including one issued by the Department of Labor that allows retirement plan managers to consider social issues when they make investment decisions. Biden vetoed the congressional resolution, leaving the rule in place.

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