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Inside Sources: Pollster takes Utah’s political pulse during pandemic

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

SALT LAKE CITY — Most Utahns approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance during the coronavirus pandemic, but they also think the federal government was caught flat-footed in taking the first steps to combat the spreading worldwide disease.

Boyd Matheson, opinion editor at Deseret News and host of KSL’s Inside Sources, was joined by pollster Scott Rasmussen, who partners with Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, to discuss their latest poll featuring how Utah feels about Mr. Trump, the federal government, and the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

“Give us a little sense in terms of what Utahns seem to be sensing and feeling both of the national and then at the local level,” Boyd asked.

“When you start talking about the job approval ratings of politicians we’ve noted all around the country, they’re going up. In fact, actually, some other data shows all around the world they’re going up,” Rasmussen said.

He said 58 percent of Utah voters approve of President Donald Trump’s performance amid the coronavirus pandemic, while 38 percent do not, according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

According to the poll, 79% of Utah Republicans approve of the president’s response, while 17% disapprove. Among Democrats in the state, 78% disapprove and 20% approve.

Rasmussen said 49 percent of Utah voters believe the federal government took too long to act to slow the spread of the coronavirus across the country.

Supporting leadership

Boyd noted that big catastrophes seem to elevate politicians’ poll ratings.

“Is that just the nature of people wanting to rally, wanting to have someone to lead them? What is that phenomenon?” he asked.

“It is one of the few times when the government’s overall actions seem to directly impact so many people,” Rasmussen said. “We hear about debates in Congress, and is the deficit going up or down or will this tax bill help or hurt? And to many people, those are theoretical impacts on their lives. They don’t see it. But this is something that is having a very significant impact,” he said.

What’s does the future look like?

“How are the American people going to move forward?” after the pandemic, Boyd asked.

“We’re learning new ways to build community. When churches can’t meet, they find ways to get together online. Parents are all of a sudden having a vast experiment at home-schooling,” Rasmussen said. “People are using virtual gatherings for the first time.”

“We’re not going to unlearn these things. They’re moving us faster into a more virtual future,” he said.

Rasmussen said he was optimistic for the future because it will give more power to the individual about new ways to deal with their lives,. He added transitions can be tough, but Americans will land in a good place.

“These things that we’re experiencing during the pandemic are really going to shake up the education industry, the health-care industry and our entire political system,” he said.

Rasmussen polled 979 Utah registered voters on March 23-28. The survey has margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Inside Sources airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon on KSL NewsRadio with host Boyd Matheson.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States