McAdams has narrow lead over Owens, but Utah's 4th Congressional District race too close to call

Posted at 4:48 AM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 23:25:40-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Like the presidential election, the race for Utah's 4th Congressional District is still too close to call as of Wednesday night.

The later-than-election-day result comes as no surprise to those in Utah's political sphere — in 2018, the hotly-contested race wasn't called for Ben McAdams against then-incumbent Mia Love until two weeks after Election Day.

As of the latest released batch of numbers from the elections office Tuesday night, Democratic incumbent Rep. McAdams held a 3.5-point lead against Republican challenger Burgess Owens. McAdams had 49.5 percent with 109,880 votes, and Owens had 46 percent with 102,115.

At the most recent count, Owens led McAdams in Juab, Sanpete and Utah counties — but McAdams' lead in Salt Lake County more than made up that difference.

The race is shaping up much like 2018 when McAdams unseated Rep. Mia Love by roughly 700 votes.

“This is almost an exact repeat of what we saw in 2018,” said Jason Perry of the Hinkley Institute. “This one is one we won’t know the answer to for a couple of weeks.”

Perry estimates, within the district, about 108,000 votes remain to be counted in Salt Lake County and 17,000 in Utah County.

Because of the unique demographics of the counties, those votes will be split very differently.

“The dynamics of Salt Lake County and Utah County are what make this such a tight race,” Perry said. “You have to compare this to what happened last election cycle for Ben McAdams. Right now, he’s earning about 54 percent of the Salt Lake County votes and about 29 percent of Utah County.”

If those percentages hold, the final result will be extremely tight once all the ballots are.

“If Ben McAdams continues to get roughly 54 percent of all the outstanding votes in Salt Lake County, that’s going to go well for him,” Perry said. “If Burgess Owens gets the benefit of strong turnout in Utah County it’s going to stay close.”

Two other candidates from other parties are also in the running. Libertarian John Molnar had 2.8 percent, and Jonia Broderick with the United Utah party had 1.7 percent as of late Tuesday night.

The remainder of Utah's U.S. Congressional races were called Tuesday night, with Blake Moore winning District 1 (replacing Rep. Rob Bishop, who is retiring), incumbent Chris Stewart in District 2, and incumbent John Curtis in District 3. All three are Republicans.

Click here to view all of Utah's latest election numbers, including state House and Senate races and how Utahns voted in the presidential election.