Wow: Plurality of Utahns feel positive about Romney's vote to remove Trump

It’s high time Utah broke free from this country and went its own way. I’ll fully support their right to do so.

As long as they grant me a green card.

This poll by Scott Rasmussen for the Deseret News is … odd, in that it attempts to capture reaction to Romney’s impeachment vote by offering a variety of positive and negative words instead of a traditional “Do you support or oppose it?” question. Are you proud, encouraged, or pleased to have Romney as your senator now that he’s voted to remove Trump, asked Rasmussen, or are you disappointed, embarrassed, or angry? That was apparently his way of trying to capture the small but meaningful cohort of voters who may not have agreed with Romney on the merits but nonetheless respected the political courage he showed in crossing Trump.

I would have guessed 40/60 or thereabouts in a state this red, even allowing for the fact that Utah is more skeptical of Trump than the average Republican state. Wrong.

As you might expect, partisan reaction differed dramatically. Democrats split 83/13 on positive versus negative reaction to Romney’s vote. Republicans split 31/60 — which is much more positive than you’d expect given how Republicans nationally felt about impeachment (just seven percent said Trump should be removed in the latest YouGov poll) but still a two-to-one ratio of negative to positive. Romney’s overall approval rating also dropped (slightly) too while Trump’s approval rating rose (slightly).

As for the more salient question of what this means for his next Senate race, Utahns split almost evenly, 36/37, on whether his vote makes it more or less likely that they’ll vote for him. But that result also has a sharp partisan divide, of course: Just 23 percent of Republicans are now more likely to vote for Romney versus 56 percent who are less likely. The reason the overall margin is tight is because many Democrats are now more likely to vote for him than they used to be. Or at least to say that they’re more likely.

But c’mon. No Utah Dems are crossing the aisle to vote for Mitt in 2024, whether or not they’re marginally more “likely” to do so. The 2012 election showed us what lefties think of Romney when something meaningful is on the line. And in the meantime, a 23/56 split within his own party — the party that dominates the state — is good news for potential primary challengers. This poll is encouraging for him in the sense that the bottom hasn’t dropped out of his support but clearly he has work to do to rebuild bridges.

Might not be easy!

Is Mike Lee going to be censured retroactively too for going nuclear on Trump’s aides after the Iran briefing last month? What about for the various times Lee has voted against Trump on war powers? What about the fact that Lee votes with Trump overall less often than Romney does? What about the time Lee led the charge on the convention floor in 2016 to try to deny Trump the delegates he needed for the nomination?

A lot of heretics need excommunication. Starting with Romney is fine but surely we can’t finish with him.

One way to process the Rasmussen data above is to look back a few weeks to how impeachment was polling in Utah before Romney made up his mind. In January the Salt Lake Tribune found Utahns decisively opposed to removing Trump, 35/59, with all but five percent of that latter group claiming they were “strongly” opposed to it. To turn around a few weeks later and have 49 percent reacting positively to Romney’s vote versus 40 percent reacting negatively is a testament to the esteem in which Romney is held and/or the public’s grudging respect for how difficult it was for a Republican senator to cast a vote this momentous in a spot like that. I guess all of those news stories over the past week quoting Utahns as seeming mildly approving, or at least understanding, of his decision weren’t as far off the mark as I assumed.

Exit quotation from Politico: “Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on a JetBlue flight from Palm Beach to DCA on Monday morning. Romney received a round of applause from passengers as he was waiting to deplane, per our tipster.”

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Jazz Shaw 12:01 PM on November 28, 2022