BYU poll puts Owens in slight lead over Love in 4th District race

Posted at 10:00 PM, Oct 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-28 00:00:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The election is just a week away and the race between Mia Love and Doug Owens is a statistical tie according to a Brigham Young University pollster.

The BYU Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy puts Democrat Doug Owens slightly in the lead at 45.8 percent with Republican Mia Love trailing behind at 42.2 percent.

But how accurate are the new numbers? Love's campaign says the new poll is fundamentally flawed but political analysts are surprised at how tight this race has become.

"This race is neck and neck," said Doug Owens.

The Democrat, who is the underdog in a district designed and some say gerrymandered to help a Republican win the Congressional seat, says the new numbers show Utah voters are paying close attention to this race.

"My opponent has been running three years and outspent me by millions of dollars, with out of state money, by the way,  but as my message has gotten out, I think it's resonated with people," Owens said.

Love didn't want to talk to FOX 13 News Monday but her campaign sent a statement attacking BYU's polling methodology stating, "The results are significantly different, not only from our internal polling, but from other polling as well.  This poll is not valid."

"I think a lot of people were surprised by this," said Morgan Lyon Cotti who is the Program Director for the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Cotti said both candidates have challenges to overcome.

"Her (Love’s) last campaign against Jim Matheson has to be a huge factor here. It was a pretty negative campaign. Doug Owens has a different issue, which is people don't know who he is," Cotti said.

While BYU's poll puts Love and Owens in a virtual tie, one of the University's pollsters say he's not so sure about the results of the 2nd district.

The incumbent, Congressman Chris Stewart is at 43.4 percent according to the poll and Democrat Luz Robles is gaining ground with 36 percent.

"I think the sample of voters that we have in the 2nd District seems to lean a little more heavily democratic than what we can expect on Election Day and so I think that has something to do with those results. We would expect Chris Stewart to have a solid lead at this point," said Chris Karpowitz who is the co-director for the BYU Center for Study of Elections and Democracy.

The poll also shows newcomer Brian Wonnacott, the Democratic candidate for the 3rd District is at 24.9 percent while Congressman Jason Chaffetz is at 59 percent.

In the 1st District, Congressman Rob Bishop is at 49.1 percent and Democrat Donna McAleer is trailing behind at 30.8 percent.