SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns appear to be settling in on what they think about the job the state’s two U.S. senators are doing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Mitt Romney continues to see a job approval rating above 50%, while Sen. Mike Lee still languishes below that mark, according to the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.
Also, outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert’s rating is on a bit of a roller coaster ride.
“Leading during a pandemic is immensely difficult, particularly when there is so much uncertainty about how actions taken now may impact outcomes in the future,” said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “For now, it appears our local and federal elected officials have found a balance of public trust that is keeping their polling numbers relatively stable.”
Most voters know where they stand on Romney. The survey shows 52% approve of the way he is doing his job, while 38% disapprove. Only 10% aren’t sure.
As in past polls, the GOP senator has a higher rating among Democrats than Republicans in the state.
Only 46% of Republicans approve of his performance, while 49% disapprove, including nearly a third who strongly disapprove. His favorability among Democrats is 60%, the poll shows.
Independent pollster Scott Rasmussen surveyed 964 Utah registered voters April 15-21. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
While voters have strong opinions about Romney one way or the other, that’s not true about Lee.
According to the survey, 45% approve of the work he is doing, while 28% disapprove and 28% aren’t sure, a high number for a two-term Republican in a conservative state.
While 59% of Republicans approve of Lee, even 27% in his own party aren’t sure about his job performance.
Lee and Romney were back in Washington on Monday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the Senate into session despite the ongoing pandemic. McConnell wants to push through a slate of federal judges nominated by President Donald Trump.
Lee has called for Congress to get back to work for several weeks. Last week, he said senators who don’t want to return to the nation’s Capitol should consider a different line of work. Washington, D.C., has seen a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
Romney is proposing that hazard pay for front-line workers, including health care workers and grocery store clerks, be part of the next round of coronavirus relief, though new legislation is not yet on the table.
Herbert’s approval rating swelled to 65% in late March, the same week he announced a “stay safe, stay home” directive to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the new poll, it sagged to 60%. Another 25% disapprove of the job he is doing, while 14% are unsure.
Among Republicans, 70% approve of how the governor is performing his job, and among Democrats, 42% approve.
Herbert is not seeking reelection after more than a decade in office.