It’s been almost one year since Utah unveiled what would become the new state flag, but residents appear somewhat divided on the design.

The latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll asked Utah voters what they think of the new flag — a total of 41% of respondents say they support it, 18% strongly and 23% somewhat.

And 37% say they oppose the flag, 23% strongly and 14% somewhat. The remaining 22% answered “don’t know.”

The poll was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, which surveyed 802 registered Utah voters from Oct. 22-23. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%.

The new design — a Beehive above a white star, against a horizontal blue, red and white mountain backdrop — was selected in November 2022 from nearly 7,000 submissions by the public.

Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, sponsored SB31, State Flag Amendments, which described the design of the new flag and allows for the historic state flag to be flown in conjunction, as long as it’s serviceable.

McCay called the poll results “pretty typical.”

“You’re going to have 20 to 25% of people who are just against change, period,” McCay said, pointing to the voters who say they strongly oppose the new flag. As the new design becomes more commonplace around the state, he expects the number of people who oppose it to decline.

McCay said his bill intended to find a middle ground between proponents of the old flag, and residents who wanted a more modern, brandable option.

“We came up with the compromise of keeping both state flags for a reason. And the poll results kind of support that, there’s a portion of the population that wants to keep our existing flag,” McCay said. “Most folks are grateful we still have two flags.”

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McCay has become a flag bearer, if you will, for the new design. His X account, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is awash with pictures of hats, sweatshirts and coffee mugs adorning the new design. The senator says he gets about 10 to 15 messages each day with a picture of the flag flying in neighborhoods across the state.

“It’s the best part of my day,” McCay said. “... For me, this whole thing has been about having an identity that unifies the state of Utah.”

But the flag is not without controversy, evidenced by the poll results that still show a large part of the electorate opposed to the new design.

McCay’s bill narrowly passed the senate after a 40-35 vote, and during the public comment period at a Senate Business and Labor Committee meeting last year, opponents invoked QAnon conspiracy theories, cancel culture and “woke, politically correct mobs.”

The most active, vocal critics of the new flag argue that it’s erasing the state’s history, and was a waste of lawmakers’ time, and taxpayer’s money. Chad Saunders with Restore Utah’s Flag told the Deseret News if lawmakers “were really listening to the people, they would not have done this in the first place.”

“There is a feeling that there’s an effort to water down the histories of different states and of different cultures so that we don’t have individual pride,” Saunders said, arguing that the new flag is a result of special interests.

“Everybody assumes that Utah is a red state. What we’re discovering with Restore Utah’s Flag is that we are not a red state, we are a special interest state. Many of our legislators will respond to special interest before they respond to the people,” he said.

Restore Utah’s Flag filed a statewide initiative in the spring, and is currently collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot, giving voters a chance to repeal the new design.

According to data from the Lt. Governor’s office, the initiative currently has 47,156 signees. A ballot initiative needs 134,298 signatures.

The poll results point to a slight drop in support since the last time the Deseret News surveyed public opinion on the flag. Conducted in March, the poll found 48% supported it, 35% opposed and 17% don’t know.

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Saunders pointed to this decline, and said the large portion of respondents who are still unsure symbolizes a problematic process.

“There’s still a lot of people who don’t know about it, which tells me that lawmakers did not do a good job of presenting this to the community as a whole, or to our state,” he said.

McCay acknowledged the legislature might have to revisit the issue during the next session, which he said will only take up “more time, more effort, more money and more resources.”

“In the end, fly either flag or fly both, it doesn’t really matter how you show off your Utah pride, but please do fly an Utah flag,” McCay said.

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