The latest poll released by Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy gave a razor-thin margin of victory to Democrat Doug Owens in cutting down the hopes of his Republican opponent Mia Love. The final numbers give Owens a 45.8 percent advantage to Love's 42.2 percent, with a 6 percent margin of error according to Political Science professor and the center's co-director Chris Karpowitz.
The poll released Monday morning is still sending shock waves through the political landscape with Utah Democrats rejoicing and other groups like Utah Policy downgrading their ranking of the 4th Congressional race from “strong Republican” to “lean Republican.” The BYU poll comes on the heels of another independent poll commissioned by Utah Policy and Dan Jones and Associates that gave Love a 9-point advantage over Owens.
This poll examining the statewide Attorney General's race and the other congressional races found interesting results in the competitive fourth competition, where Love is returning to seek the seat she narrowly lost to Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah in 2012 by slightly more than 700 votes.
gauged the views of 236 respondents for the 4th Congressional District race, but Karpowitz says the poll uncovered some interesting results since the voters polled for the 4th Congressional District race were also simultaneously polled about the statewide Attorney General's race.
“What we find is that we when we look at the AG's race among the same sample of 4th district voters, the Republican candidate has a very large lead,” Karpowitz says. “But we don't see that with the Love/ Owens race and that indicates to us that something different is going on in that race.”
Karpowitz wouldn't speculate about what that factor may be. Democrats would likely point to the strength of Owens, who is running as a very moderate Democrat
in line with Matheson and his father, former Democratic Congressman Wayne Owens.
Whatever the “it” factor, BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy has Owens not only taking 97 percent of Democratic votes but also 22 percent of the votes of Republican respondents. While the poll didn't have a good sample of Independent voters, the poll's authors state that Owens will need Independents to also help him to victory.
The poll also shows more conservative third-party candidates for the Constitution, Libertarian and Independent American parties cumulatively taking 5.4 percent of the vote that could mean the difference for Love. Karpowitz, however, says the sample for those parties might not be as significant as the major parties and those numbers might not hold up come election day.
“Once people know the race is really close, they might move away from third-party candidates and cast their lot with a Republican candidate, especially Libertarian ad Constitution Party voters,” Karpowitz says.
The other significant number to be gleaned from the poll is that compared to other congressional races where the percentage of respondents that don't know who they're voting for ranges from 14 to 15 percent, in the Love/Owens race only 6.6 percent of respondents said they didn't know who they were voting for.
To examine the full poll results from BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy click here.