Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Utah’s 2016 Elections Could be Really, Really Boring

Bob BernickWell, this election year is turning out to be kind of a dud, at least on the Utah scene.

There was hope early on that the rematch with Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Democrat Doug Owens in the 4th Congressional District would have some excitement.

But, no, Love is 13 points up in the latest UPD Dan Jones & Associates survey.

Owens lost by just 7,511 votes two years ago, 50.92 percent to 45.81 percent.

Owens might be happy this year to lose by just 5.11 percentage points come Nov. 8.

The race likely will close before then.

But Love has plenty of TV ad money and is running what appears to me to be an effective negative TV ad, tying Owens to former liberal Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson – who lost his own U.S. congressional race back in the day.

Owens is sticking with his “I’m from a Utah family” ads like two years ago. (Love is a transplant.)

He has just over a month to come out swinging against Love, or this one won’t be as close as before.

Other races in Utah?

Not even a sleeper among them – GOP candidates are killing their Democratic opposition, up by 30 points, even 40 points in the polls.

The bright sign for Democrats is Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. I haven’t seen any polling in this race, yet.

But McAdams seems to be popular – no big mistakes or scandals over the last four years. And in 2014 he beat a competitive Republican by 38,752 votes, 54.47 percent to 45.42 percent.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won’t do well in Utah. Probably not even in Salt Lake County (Obama barely won the county way back in 2008.)

McAdams has spent $276,000 already this year, he is up on TV (with his goofy bus) and has $212,000 in cash.

Republican challenger Dave Robinson has raised $50,000, spent $49,000 and has $367 in cash, as of the last September reporting period.

Don’t know if Robinson is going to do any TV, but without it, he probably is sunk.

Yes, there was some national news nonsense when one early poll showed Clinton and Trump tied in Utah. But that was never going to stand.

Utah is a red state in national politics, even with an oddball like Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

Trump will get less than 50 percent of the Utah vote, but still win the state with a plurality and grab its six Electoral College votes.

The real question nationally for Utahns is whether Republicans still control the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee keep their committee strongholds.

Just think, 18 months ago it looked like Lee would get a strong intra-party challenger, maybe even two or three, and be at risk of losing his Senate seat.

Now he is 40 points up on the Democratic challenger, Misty Snow, who could end up getting the smallest vote for U.S Senate in Utah in generations.


A real political comeback for Lee.

Another really poor showing for Utah Democrats.

When the big issue for Republicans here is whether or not they will hold a majority on the Salt Lake County Council after Nov. 8, you know it’s going to be another fine year for Republicans in Utah.