With the bad taste of a tax hike still lingering, a sluggish economy and the continued education problem facing Utahns, it is not a good time to be an incumbent running for re-election, and a new Dan Jones & Associates poll reflects that problem for Utah House and Senate members.
In a poll conducted for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, Jones found that 44 percent of those questioned disapprove of the job the Legislature is doing, while 46 percent approve.Also, 41 percent said their current House representative shouldn't be re-elected this fall. While 34 percent said their current state senator shouldn't be re-elected, 38 percent said he or she should.
All of the 75 House members are up for election, while half of the 29-member Senate faces re-election.
Traditionally, House and Senate members are not well-known by their constituents. In an effort to measure the public's feelings for their lawmakers, Jones asked 607 adults in telephone interviews: "Do you think your incumbent state representative has performed well enough as a legislator to deserve re-election, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?"
Forty-one percent said give a new person a chance; 29 percent said re-elect; 9 percent said it depends on who runs; and 21 percent didn't know.
When the same question was asked about state senators, 34 percent said someone new should be elected; 38 percent said re-elect; 8 percent said it depends on who runs; and 20 percent didn't know.
Thirty-four percent of the Republicans want their incumbent House members re-elected, less than Democrats who want a change. But GOP leaders shouldn't take great pleasure in that statistic. Republican lawmakers outnumber Democratic legislators 48-27 in the House and 21-8 in the Senate, so naturally more Republican voters would want to re-elect their GOP legislators.
Fifty-two percent of the Democrats questioned want a new representative and 45 percent of the independents want a new legislator.
In February 1987, legislators approved a $160-million tax increase. In a poll taken in March 1987, Jones found that 45 percent of those questioned disapproved of the Legislature's job performance. So in a year, the public's opinion of the body has only slightly improved.
How would you rate the job performance of the Utah State Legislature?
Strongly approve 8 percent
Somewhat approve 38 percent
Somewhat disapprove 26 percent
Strongly disapprove 18 percent
Don't know 10 percent
Do you think your incumbent state representative has performed well enough as a legislator to deserve re-election, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?
Re-elect incumbent 29 percent
New person 41 percent
Depends on who runs 9 percent
Don't know 21 percent
Do you think your incumbent state senator has performed well enough as a legislator to deserve re-election, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?
Re-elect incumbent 38 percent
New person 34 percent
Depends on who runs 8 percent
Don't know 20 percent
Sample size: 607; margin of error plus or minus 4 percent