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Washington • President Donald Trump's approval rating in Utah, after recently edging above 50 percent for the first time, has taken a hit leaving him once again with less than majority favorability, a new poll shows.
A Utah Policy survey published Wednesday shows that 47 percent of Utahns approve of Trump, while 50 percent do not, a sharp drop from a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll in which just over a majority of Utah voters 54 percent gave the president a thumbs-up.
The first poll was conducted March 15-21, and the second was conducted March 22-29.
Dan Jones & Associates handled both, with margins of error below 4 percentage points.
Jones, a longtime pollster, said the president's approval dropped mainly for two reasons: failure to pass the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act in part, and continuing news about potential ties between Russia's hacking of the election and Trump's team.
The health care push collapsed March 24, when House Republicans recognized they would not have the votes and pulled the bill.
In both polls, the numbers are historically dim for a GOP president in the Republican stronghold of Utah, especially given Trump has been in office only a few months.
"I can't think of one Republican president that's been lower," Jones said.
Trump won 45.5 percent of Utah's vote in the election, the lowest support of any modern Republican presidential nominee. The candidate had acknowledged he had a "tremendous problem" in Utah, partially because of Mitt Romney's vocal opposition to his candidacy. Romney, who lives in the state and is Mormon, is wildly popular in the predominantly LDS state.
Jones said Utah voters still hope for a different Trump to emerge, and for the scandals surrounding his administration to dissipate, but so far, they're not happy with the president.
"What I really find is they want him to succeed; they're not saying impeach him," Jones said. "But they're unhappy with the way he's performing."
Trump has been besieged since even before taking office, with two congressional committees and the FBI now probing whether his team had coordinated with Russian officials to sway the election in the Republican's favor. His pick for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned 24 days into office after admitting that he misled the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
The Utah Policy poll shows Trump continues to face concern among women, with 56 percent of Utah women surveyed giving him unfavorable views as opposed to 44 percent of men who said the same thing.
And partisanship is a driving factor, with 71 percent of Republicans offering praise for Trump while 95 percent of Utah Democrats disapprove 93 percent of whom said they have a "very unfavorable" view of Trump. Unaffiliated voters disapprove of the president, 69 percent to 28 percent.
Ron Fox, a Utah historian and one of the first Trump supporters in the state, attributed the president's low numbers to the inability of Congress to work together on passing the White House's legislation the American Health Care Act, for example and questions about Russia that are still going unanswered.
Mostly, Fox says, Americans and Utahns expect Trump to fix Washington, and he has yet to make the headway they want to see.
"People want to see change and they want to see it now," Fox said. "Right now, the people in general want to move forward Trump wants to move forward but he's dealing with Congress, and he's not getting that momentum."
Fox acknowledged there is "a lot of smoke" with regard to the Russia concerns and that is hampering the new administration.
"Everybody is kind of waiting on what the results will be on that particular issue," he said. "There's been too much innuendo and too much finger-pointing and not enough facts yet."
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said Trump will continue to struggle in Utah because he's an immoral loudmouth who acts un-American.
"It surprises me that even 47 percent of Utah would give Trump good marks," Corroon said. "Three months in office, he's basically failed on everything he's tried and has set a tone that does not fit with Utah values."
The Utah Policy poll surveyed 844 registered Utah voters and has a margin of error of 3.37 percentage points. The Tribune-Hinckley poll questioned 605 registered voters for a 3.98-point error margin.