Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has been one of the most prominent tea party voices in the budget showdown in Washington, but many of his constituents want to see him compromise, according to two new polls -- and his unwillingness to do so may have cost him some points.
An online Brigham Young University poll of a panel of Utah voters randomly recruited at polling places, found that Lee's favorable rating is down 10 points, from 50 percent in June to 40 percent in October. Among his own party, his rating dropped from 71 percent to 57 percent.
Utah voters were more likely to blame President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate for the shutdown than they were to blame Republicans in the House, but many said they didn't approve of continuing to tie the shutdown to health care.
The poll asked:
In the debate about the budget, Senator Mike Lee has argued that continued funding for the national government should be tied to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). Other Republicans have argued that insisting on this strategy is not productive because the result is a government shutdown. Which of the following best represents your view on the issue?
A 57 percent majority of Utah voters said Lee should compromise, even if that means passing a budget that funds Obamacare, while 43 percent wanted him to stand by his principles regardless of the shutdown.
Most independents and Democrats, as well as 38 percent of Republicans, said they favor a compromise. Opinion in the GOP broke down starkly along tea party lines -- just 10 percent of active tea party supporters said Lee should compromise, while 51 percent of non-tea party Republicans favored brokering a deal.
A second survey, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for KSL-TV and Deseret News, found similar results in the state, with 56 percent of Utahns saying it wasn't worth shutting down the government to repeal Obamacare. More said they disapproved than approved of the tea party's influence on the government shutdown.
"Utahns are conservative but pragmatic," Kirk Jowers, the head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, told Deseret News. "Utahns expect effectiveness and efficiency and results out of their government, not ideological tantrums."
The BYU poll surveyed 938 Utah voters from a panel recruited at polling places across Utah. The Dan Jones poll surveyed 410 Utahns.