Democrat Kathie Allen and her supporters are blaming gerrymandering as the reason she’s 30-points behind Republican John Curtis in the latest UtahPolicy.com survey.
Maybe that’s some of it. Certainly, the 3rd CD has been gerrymandered to the point that it’s nigh impossible for a Democrat to win there.
But, the other big reason is she’s not connecting with voters there. At all.
The Cook Partisan Voting Index rates Utah’s 3rd CD as +25 Republican, which means a generic Republican candidate should have a 25-point advantage in that district. John Curtis is up 30 according to recent polling.
In both measures, Allen is wildly underperforming as a candidate.
Yes, gerrymandering is to blame for part of this, which is why those two metrics are tilted decisively toward Republicans. So, yes, she’s starting way behind the 8-ball.
But, Allen is falling even further behind those two baseline measures, which means people aren’t buying what she’s selling. She’s not convincing them to come over to her corner.
Allen’s TV ad flooded the Utah airwaves. I swear I saw it during every single TV ad break during two recent BYU games on TV. Yet, she’s still only at 19%.
That failure to move the dial is not gerrymandering. That’s a candidate who doesn’t connect with voters in the district.
In fact, Allen is running behind the last three Democrats to run against Chaffetz in CD3.
Soren Simonsen got 23.4% in 2012
Brian Wonnacott scored 22.5% in 2014
Stephen Tryon won 26.5% of the vote in 2016.
Allen’s 30-point deficit to Curtis with less than seven weeks to election day means she’s going to have to pull voters away from the Republican. There are only 17% undecided. Even if she won every single uncommitted candidate, that’s not enough to catch Curtis.
Right now, she’s on pace to be a historically inept candidate there. Brian Wonnacott is the bar she should at least clear. He ran as a Democrat because nobody else stepped up to challenge Chaffetz that year. He didn’t raise any money, and Chaffetz didn’t break a sweat coasting to a 40+ point victory. Even though Allen is campaigning, she’s running behind Wonnacott right now. That’s alarming.
As my colleague Bob Bernick pointed out, Allen is not winning any fans in some of the key demographics she needs to have a shot at beating Curtis in November.
She is barely ahead of Curtis in Salt Lake County, where she leads 36-34%
Women, a natural constituency for Allen, are not warming to her. She only gets 21% of the female vote.
Allen is pinning a lot of her electoral hopes on millennial voters at the two prominent colleges in the 3rd CD, BYU, and UVU. That’s not working either because she is only getting 5% of the vote from those between 18-24 years old. She also gets just 19% of the vote from those 25-35 years old.
Right now, Allen’s political base has shrunk to liberals and Democrats. Good luck finding enough of them to win in the 3rd CD.
Curtis is winning independent voters 38-23%.
Even 9% of Democrats say they’ll vote for Curtis right now.
There are two conclusions to draw from this. One, the district is virtually unwinnable for Democrats. And two, Allen, as a candidate, is unsuited for the electorate in the 3rd CD.
Here’s an anecdotal example. Twitter user Jesse Harris (@Elforesto) tells me he dug through Allen’s Twitter timeline, where she is quite active conversing with other users. He said it was difficult to find interactions she was having with voters in Utah. She’s talking with lots of people, but none who can vote for her.
When I reached out to Harris to ask him about what he found, he replied, “If you look through her timeline for who she responds to, you notice that almost every single profile with a location is not from Utah. She insists that she started building ‘national support,’ but it’s fairly obvious she just has no clue how to run in that district.”
Something could change between now and November. Curtis could stub his toe during a public forum or debate, which could pull some support toward Allen. But time is running out.