Maybe it's the sign of the times, or just greater partisanship today than in 2001, but Democratic President Barack Obama starts his presidency with a much lower job approval rating among Utahns than did Republican George W. Bush eight years ago.

A new poll for the Deseret News and KSL-TV by Dan Jones & Associates finds that only 51 percent of Utahns approve of the job Obama is doing.

That compares to a 78 percent approval rating Bush racked up back in the spring of 2001.

Jones also found that the Democratic-controlled Congress gets a poor rating — only 34 percent of Utahns approve of Congress' job performance today.

And half of all Utahns don't like the Obama/Congress measures to stimulate the economy, Jones found.

Of course, Utah is a Republican state that has voted for every GOP presidential candidate since 1964.

Still, Obama did do well here in the 2008 elections, compared with previous Democratic Party presidential candidates. Obama even narrowly won Salt Lake County over Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Even so, only 60 percent of Salt Lake County residents approve of the job Obama is doing, Jones found in a survey conducted last week of 400 adults statewide. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Of course, Obama is facing tougher economic times than did Bush eight years ago — a recession the worst since the Great Depression with rising unemployment, business failures and home foreclosures.

Obama's 51 percent approval rating in Utah is about 10 percentage points below his approval ratings found in national surveys conducted over the last several weeks, according to pollster.com.

For example, a CNN poll taken March 15 shows Obama with a 64 percent approval rating nationally, while a CBS poll taken a day later shows a 62 percent approval rating for the new president.

And Utah's 34 percent approval rating for Congress also is a lower number than measured nationally.

Pollster.com reports a 39 percent congressional approval rating recorded nationally in a March 5 Gallup poll, and a 36 percent approval rating in a National Public Radio survey earlier this month.

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