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Utah voters say lawmakers don't pay attention to what they want, according to new poll

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Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa, who is running against Rep Keith Rothfus, R-Pa in Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, exits his polling place after voting Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Mt. Lebanon, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Most Utahns, even most Republicans, think their Utah House and Senate member pay little or no attention to what they -- the voter -- wants, a new UtahPolicy.com/2News poll by Y2 Analytics finds.

But at least most Utahns say the Legislature gets more done than does the U.S. Congress -- but considering how little Congress does, that may not be saying much.

Y2 also asked if voters have confidence that state leaders -- including GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and the Republican-controlled Legislature -- have the knowledge, skills and abilities to properly govern.

Those responses are a mixed bag -- most do, many don’t.

Likely to a person, each of the 104 part-time legislators believes they listen to their constituents. The lawmakers may not agree with some of their voters; but they listen.

However, most of their constituents disagree.

The numbers:

Among all voters, 62% said their legislators (you have one House and one Senate member each) pay “very little attention” or “no attention at all” to what an individual voter may think, even if the voter takes the trouble to actually speak personally with their lawmaker.

Only 37% said they think their legislator listens to them, with only 6 percent saying their lawmaker pays “a lot” of attention to what they say.

Now, this is a question of whether the legislator just listens and pays attention to them, not that the lawmaker actually DOES what the voter wants.

Republican lawmakers hold super-majorities in the House and Senate, more than two-thirds.

Yet Y2 found that 52% of “strong Republicans” -- the GOP lawmakers’ base -- said their legislator pays “very little” attention to them, or “none at all.”

Ouch!

71% of political independents said their legislator pays little or no attention to them, even if they contact them personally.

And 68% of “strong Democrats” think their own legislators pay little or no attention to them.

The poor showing on this question may very well be a result of the recent tax reform fiasco -- which saw a bi-partisan, strange-bed-fellow coalition organize to gather enough signatures to put a repeal of tax reform on the November ballot.

Legislative GOP leaders and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert -- facing the revolt -- repealed tax reform the 2nd Day of the 2020 Legislature. There will be no vote in November.

This new survey, taken during that revolt, likely reflects many Utahns’ displeasure with how the Legislature and Herbert went about pushing tax reform through, including calling an early December special session.

Politically speaking, it was a clear blunder -- one not seen in more than 30 years in Utah.

Y2 also found that 52% of voters believe lawmakers and Herbert have “a moderate amount” of the skills needed to govern properly.

But that majority is reached because Republicans give the leaders of their own party some love: 59% of “strong Republicans” believe so, but only 46 percent of political independents say our leaders have the needed skills, and 38 percent of “strong Democrats” believe so.

50% of Democrats say the GOP leaders don’t have much of the required skills, with 11% say they have none of the skills needed to govern well.

86% of voters say the Legislature gets more done than Congress. But that’s a pretty low bar these days.

Additionally, Y2 asked the panel to express their thoughts and feelings when the Utah State Legislature is in session. Below is a word cloud of their responses. The larger a word, the more times it was mentioned by our respondents.

The Utah Political Trends survey was conducted January 16-30, 2020 by Y2 Analytics among 2,296 likely Utah voters with a margin of error +/- 2.1% points. You can read more about the polling methodology here.

KUTV 2News recently partnered with Utah Policy.com and Y2 Analytics and will be providing polling results on a regular basis throughout the election season. You can sign up for UtahPolicy.com’s daily email newsletter here.

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