Poll shows 4th District race between Love, Owens could be close

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jul 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-29 08:39:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- When you look at the campaign spending, the numbers couldn't be more telling about who's ahead in Utah’s 4th Congressional District Race, with Mia Love banking about four times more than Doug Owens.

But on Monday, Owens was touting some new numbers that he believes are quickly closing that gap.

“She’s spent a tremendous amount of money, already. And the poll is showing a very competitive race,” Owens said.

The Owens campaign released the results of a self-commissioned poll, which they contend shows he can win against Love in November.

“It confirms our suspicions that when people get to know me and know what I stand for that they’ll support me,” Owens said. “But it’s nice to see it statistically.”

The poll was done by a California based firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. They surveyed 400 people over the phone in the 4th district from July 15-17.

It found Love is only ahead 50 to 41 percent, and that the margin could decrease easily. When read short, positive biographies about both candidates, Owens took the Lead with 48 to 41 percent.

“Their sampling may be questionable, and that’s why I think they got the numbers,” said Dave Hansen, Love’s campaign manager.

According to Hansen, their campaign’s own internal polling paints a much different picture; however, they have never released the data.

Hansen said their information disputes Owens’ poll, which found Love received a favorable rating of 52 percent and an unfavorable rating of 42 percent.

“It is a number I think is very inaccurate,” Hansen said. “That’s certainly not what we’re seeing in our numbers, as far as unfavorability.”

While both camps will disagree on the findings, the poll could help shape how the last leg of this race plays out, according to Morgan Lion Cotte of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

“A lot of times with these internal polls, they’re not just trying to find out where they stand. They’re trying to find out what is the right messaging and how do we convey that,” Cotte said.

For instance, the poll found that both Owens’ favorable and unfavorable ratings were low, 21 percent and 5 percent. But that could be attributed to the fact that 74 percent of respondents said they couldn’t rate Owens, or didn’t know who he was.

According to Cotte, that name recognition could be good and bad.

“Let me actually start with Mia Love,” Cotte said. “She does have better name recognition, but that can help and hurt her. As I said, you know, some people might have these really negative views about her and she has to overcome that.”

That could be an opportunity for Owens.

“He doesn’t have that name recognition,” Cotte said. “But if they can figure out that messaging, he could use that to his advantage.”

If not a close race, the numbers, at the very least, guarantee a competitive one all the way until November.

“Like Mia has always said, ‘when you lose a race by less than 800 votes, you go all out so you make sure that doesn’t happen again,’” Hansen said.

According to Owens, we can expect a more aggressive contest from him in the coming weeks, from more outreach events to a new media campaign.

“We want people to know that it’s a race that’s very competitive,” he said. “We want people to know that.”