Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s job approval ratings may have dipped slightly a month ago, but they’re back as he heads into the final month of his first year as governor .
That’s according to a new Deseret News / Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, which shows Cox continues to ride a wave of high approval ratings that has remained fairly stable over the past 11 months.
A majority of Utahns continues to support the incumbent governor. When asked if they approved or disapproved of Cox’s job performance, 60% of Utahns said they approved while 24% said they disapproved. That’s up slightly from a previous Deseret News / Hinckley Institute of Politics poll in October, which found 55% of Utahns said they approved of Cox while 26% said they disapproved.
Specifically, 24% said they strongly approved, 36% said they somewhat approved, 11% said they disapproved somewhat and 13% said they strongly disapproved. About 16% said they didn’t know.
Dan Jones & Associates conducted the survey of 812 registered voters in Utah from November 18 to 30. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.44 percentage points.
Broken down by political party, 33% of Republicans said they strongly approved of Cox, while 35% said they approved somewhat, 7% said they disapproved somewhat, and 11% said they disapproved of Cox somewhat. strongly disagreed (13% said they did not know). For Democrats, 11% said they strongly approved, 34% said they rather approved, 20% said they disapproved somewhat and 22% said they strongly disapproved. Again, about 13% said they didn’t know.
The poll conducted last month is the latest in a series of Deseret News / Hinckley Institute of Politics polls that assessed the Utahns’ feelings about Cox throughout the year. Cox’s approval ratings peaked at 66% in March, held steady at 65% in April, then edged down to 58% in June. This latest poll was conducted June 18-25 by Scott Rasmussen among 1,000 registered voters in Utah and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The October poll so far has shown Cox’s lowest approval rating at 55%, though it’s still a clear majority of Utahns. Despite this slight dip, Cox’s approval ratings remained strong and stable throughout the year.
“Gov. Cox was elected with 63% of the vote and he basically stayed within the margin of error for his entire first year, ”said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “He keeps a similar percentage of people supporting him now, as he did back then.”
Perry noted that these numbers are similar to the approval ratings of former Cox boss, former Gov. Gary Herbert. “It’s just a stable number for a Republican governor of the state of Utah,” Perry said.
This is despite a turbulent year for Utah and the rest of the country, which continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to affect all aspects of life and presents an array of challenges for political leaders. .
“If you look at the difficult issues facing the state of Utah, any elected official would be grateful to stay stable,” said Perry.
More recently, President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements for large employers have been a lightning rod for Republican setbacks nationwide and in Utah.
Meanwhile, Utah remains among the nation’s coronavirus hotspots as the dominant and highly contagious delta variant fueled the state’s case rates and continued to strain hospitals. As recently as last week, the new, highly mutated omicron variant was detected in Utah. Health experts have urged the Utahns to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to exercise caution given the limited information available on the new variant.
Most Utahns, however, seem happy with Cox’s job performance. And nationally, Cox is among the most popular governors in the United States. Morning Consult ranked Cox the 10th most popular governor in the country with 62% of voters approving his performance at work. On this list, most of the highly approved governors were Republicans, with only one Democrat (Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont) ranked in the top 10.
The Utahns have grown “used,” Perry said, to having governors “with very high approval ratings compared to their peers across the country.”
Asked about the numbers from this year’s poll at a Deseret News / KSL editorial board meeting on Monday, Cox responded modestly, saying “we’re going to pass this year” given the chaos COVID-19 has presented to him and other governors across the United States
“It’s a tumultuous time. Governors across the country are certainly feeling it. Everyone wants governors to solve all their problems, until they try to solve one that they don’t agree with, then you’re a bully, ”Cox said with a smile.
But overall, Cox said he and his administration were “really excited about where we’re at, all things considered, what we’ve been through last year. But we can’t wait to turn the page this year.