Utah's five congressmen all get good job performance ratings by their constituents, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Republicans have already tried to make political hay out of Democratic Rep. Wayne Owens' vote against going to war in the Persian Gulf. But at least from this latest poll, taken before Owens was criticized by speakers at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, Owens' vote hasn't harmed his standing among voters. Owens was the only member of the delegation to vote against President Bush's request to use force to drive Saddam Hussein's troops from Ku-wait.In a poll conducted March 1-4, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 72 percent strongly or somewhat approve of the job Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is doing; 71 percent approve of the job Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, is doing; 66 percent approve of the job Owens is doing; 61 percent approve of the job Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah; is doing; and 57 percent approve of the job freshman Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, is doing.
Garn has historically received the highest job approval ratings among the Utah delegation, but Hatch sneaked ahead of the senior senator last year and remains just slightly ahead of him in the latest poll.
The highest negative ratings go to Owens and Hansen - 24 percent of their constituents don't like the job they're doing. However, Owens traditionally has higher negative ratings than his Republican colleagues.
Even though Orton was in office only two months when the poll was taken, he receives about the same ratings as did former Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, whom Orton succeeded. Nielson was an eight-year veteran when he decided not to run for re-election.
Orton, in a very Republican district, last November upset GOP candidate Karl Snow to win his first attempt at public office and stun Republican Utah.
Thirty-seven percent didn't have an opinion of Orton's performance - a fairly high "unknown" factor. But 3rd District congressmen have historically not been well-known. In a poll a year ago that included Nielson, 23 percent didn't have an opinion of the eight-year incumbent.
Nationwide, Republicans plan to use the gulf war vote against Democrats who were in favor of giving economic sanctions and embargoes more time to work and against using force in the crisis. Majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, however, voted to give Bush the authority to use force, and several days later he started the air war that led six weeks later to victory against Iraq.
Owens was lambasted for his gulf war vote by various speakers at the GOP county convention in mid-March, after the Jones poll was taken. The GOP-controlled Legislature will redraw congressional boundaries this year, giving Owens what many believe will be a dramatically different district for his 1992 re-election.
After Owens was listed by a Washington, D.C., political analyst as one of 19 Democratic incumbents who will become vulnerable to re-election because of the gulf war vote, Owens said, "I did exactly what I thought was right, and I defend it. I think it was a good, rational vote. We'll never know had sanctions been tried if we could have avoided killing 100,000 to 150,000 Iraqi solders and 100-plus Americans. But since the day of the vote I've supported wholeheartedly the war effort."
How would you rate the job performance of the following public officials?
Approve Disapprove Don't know
Orrin Hatch 72% 19% 10%
Jake Garn 71% 19% 10%
Jim Hansen (1st dist. only) 61% 24% 15%
Wayne Owens (2nd dist. only) 66% 24% 10%
Bill Orton (3rd dist only) 57% 6% 37%
Deseret News graphic