U.S. GOP Rep. Mia Love is clearly worried that Salt Lake County Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams may challenger her next year.
News broke over the weekend that McAdams, now in his second, four-year term, might jump into Love’s 4thCongressional District race in 2018.
It would be a “free” race for McAdams, he wouldn’t give up his mayorship unless he won.
Tuesday, Love’s campaign sent out a fundraising letter to a number of known Republicans, in which she calls McAdams a “Pelosi-approved liberal” – referring to U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
The letter goes on to say: “McAdams is Nancy Pelosi’s dream: Another guaranteed vote who will toe the line and not think twice about enacting a radical agenda that hurts Utahns and our economy.”
It says McAdams may claim to be a moderate, but he’s not.
For his part, McAdams has drawn broad support in past countywide elections, and he is seen as a moderate/conservative Mormon Democrat.
Love’s district is the central/south part of Salt Lake County moving southwest to the Utah County border – running down its west side to include small areas of several other rural counties.
Most of the district is on Salt Lake County’s west side, where Republicans hold the state Senate and House seats.
But McAdams is popular throughout the county.
And according to a UtahPolicy poll conducted last March, Love has reason to worry.
McAdams won re-election last year with 59.36 percent of the vote to Republican Dave Robinson’s 40.64 percent of the vote in all of Salt Lake County.
Love beat Democrat Doug Owens, 53.8 percent to 41.3 percent in all of the 4th District.
You might look at those election numbers and say Love should be OK against McAdams in a 4th District that leans Republican.
But UPD pollster Dan Jones & Associates’ March poll of the favorable/unfavorable ratings of McAdams and Love in their respective county/district shows this real interesting fact: McAdams is much better liked overall than is Love.
Let me throw some poll numbers at you, and then analyze them:
Love’s favorability is 51-42 percent in the 4th District; with 6 percent having heard of her, but having no opinion, and 0 percent had never heard of her.
McAdams favorability is 57-15 percent; with 15 percent of the county has heard of him, but no opinion; and 13 percent had never heard of him.
The 42 percent “unfavorable” rating for Love is not good – too high a number compared to McAdams’ 15 percent “unfavorable.”
59 percent of political independents in the 4th District don’t like Love, just 30 percent do.
She has a favorable rating of 77-18 percent among her own Republicans; with an unfavorable rating of 70-28 percent among Democrats.
In a race against McAdams, Love would need to get a healthy share of independents along with holding her GOP base. She doesn’t have that now.
McAdams has a 50 percent approval rating among Republicans – Love’s own folks – in Salt Lake County. Now, some of those Republicans (along with some Democrats and independents) live outside of the 4th District in the county, and so couldn’t vote for him.
Still, half of the Republicans in the county liking the Democrat McAdams? That is a big number for him.
56 percent of county political independents like McAdams, and only 14 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him; 17 percent don’t know him; and 12 percent have never heard of him.
Among Salt Lake County Republicans, only 22 percent have an unfavorable opinion of McAdams; with 17 percent having heard of him, but have no opinion; and 10 percent never having heard of him.
Clearly, Love has to knock down that 50 percent GOP favorable of McAdams, and she has to educate the 17 percent who have no opinion of him, and the 10 percent who have never heard of him – getting them to know and DISLIKE him.
You see that branding and name-calling in her new GOP fundraising letter sent out this week.
But she needs to tread lightly outside of the Republican Party faithful.
Remember, 59 percent of the political independents in the 4th District DISLIKE Love. She can’t afford to offend them. She needs some of those votes.
And 56 percent of Salt Lake County political independents LIKE McAdams. Those are key votes for him.
But Love has some problems within her own GOP/conservatives, too.
Jones finds that Love’s favorable rating is 64-31 among those who said they are “somewhat conservative.”
Those aren’t bad numbers – but a third of those who should be your base having an unfavorable opinion of you is not very good.
McAdams’ favorable among “somewhat conservatives” is 54-16 percent.
He has half of the unfavorable she has. (Remember, his numbers are countywide, hers are only in the 4th District, which is part (although a Republican part) of the county.
That 54 percent favorable among “somewhat conservatives” is pretty darn good for a Democrat. Again, 16 percent of that group has heard of McAdams, but has no opinion; while 14 percent have never heard of him. Love needs those folks to turn against him.
Love, like McAdams, is a faithful Mormon. And both do well within “very active” LDS ranks, Jones’ poll shows.
Love has a 68-27 percent approval rating among active Mormons; McAdams’ is 55-19 percent.
Going way back to Tom Shimizu in the mid-1980s, countywide elected officials have believed they have a good shot at winning a mostly-Salt Lake County U.S. House seat.
It hasn’t worked out.
So history shows McAdams has his work cut out for him.
Yes, Democratic U.S. House Rep. Jim Matheson held a part-SLCounty seat – the 2nd and then the 4th – for more than a decade.
You have to be a proven moderate LDS Democrat to do so – as Matheson was and McAdams is.
You have to be able to raise some bucks in a U.S. House race – for it can turn ugly with out-of-state PACs coming in with large TV buys – most of them negative.
Can McAdams – a recognized nice guy – get tough on an African-American woman?
Can he raise the money?
Would a 2018 loss in a U.S. House race harm him if he decided to run for an open Utah governor’s seat in 2020?
McAdams must decide soon if he’s in or out.
But for now, election results and UPD Jones polling looks pretty good for him.