By this time in her 2012 U.S. House run, Mia Love had had visits from several national GOP House leaders and was looking forward to considerable support from the RNCC – the Republican National Congressional Committee.
Not so in her 2014 campaign.
And internal demographics found in a new Zions Bank/UtahPolicy poll in the 4th Congressional District may well tell the tale.
Utahns – especially 4th District voters – just plain hate the U.S. Congress.
And for the first time ever, one national poll shows that Americans don’t even like their OWN U.S. House incumbent – 51 percent saying they disapprove of the job he or she is doing.
In Utah, the new Dan Jones/Cicero Group survey shows that 87 percent of 4th District voters disapprove of Congress’ job performance. Only 12 percent approve.
Dave Hansen, Love’s campaign manager, has risen to mythical status among Utah politicos after his ground-breaking grassroots campaign to get Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, through the 2012 state Republican Convention.
Now Hansen tells UtahPolicy that you won’t see the national GOP House leaders coming to Utah for Love this year.
And, said Hansen, he has asked the RNCC not to come into Utah spending – like it did in 2012 – millions of dollars in TV ads (some considered negative) in the 4th District race.
“We told (RNCC officials) we are just fine right now in our campaign plan,” Hansen told UtahPolicy Tuesday.
Of course, under federal campaign law (and high court rulings), any “independent expenditure” campaign – like the RNCC would run – cannot be coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
But Hansen is allowed to ask for such help, and to ask such groups to stay out of the campaign he’s running.
Hansen was tactful in responding to UtahPolicy questions about keeping national GOP figures out of Utah this year.
“As your poll shows, as our polls show, people want to see the dysfunction in Washington end. Obviously, they are not happy with the way things are being run back there,” said Hansen.
Love is the only 4th District candidate “that has proven she can get things done,” said Hansen, referring to Democrat Doug Owens’ lack of public elective service and Love’s tenure on the Saratoga Springs City Council and as that city’s mayor.
“Mia prefers that no one come in (from the outside). They tend to run negative, slash and burn campaigns that people in Utah don’t really like to see,” said Hansen.
Owens has also said he doesn’t want to see negative campaigning in Utah. But he does promise “an aggressive” campaign, and will point out Love’s history and how he would do better.
Love told KSL Radio’s Doug Wright on Monday – in commenting on the Zions/UtahPolicy survey – that not only won’t the RNCC come into the 2014 4th District race, but she believes the DCCC – the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – won’t be spending money here, either.
The DCCC, like the RNCC, spent millions in Utah in 2012. But the DCCC usually supports incumbents, like Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who is retiring this year.
Matheson beat Love by fewer than 800 votes two years ago.
If Owens can show, via polling, that he has a chance to really beat Love, then the DCCC may come in with some big TV buys.
And Hansen, while not putting it in those terms, said the fact that the RNCC isn’t planning on spending any money in Utah now, that “could change” as Election Day nears.
Here is what Love is facing on the U.S. House front:
— While the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate must take some blame in the current highly partisan, highly ineffective Congress, the U.S. House is controlled by Republicans.
And Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, may well be on his way out as the top GOP leader because he hasn’t been able to even get his caucus to vote on important issues, like immigration reform.
— Jones found in the new poll that 74 percent of 4th District GOP voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
Eighty-four percent of Democrats disapprove, as well.
But the key statistic is that 93 percent of independents in the 4th District disapprove of Congress’ job performance – which includes the GOP-controlled U.S. House.
Hansen and Love don’t need many more GOP voters (turnout is key there). And they don’t need Democratic votes.
But they may well need independent votes to win the 4th District – just as Matheson needed independent votes two years ago to barely beat Love.
Hansen, of course, understands this.
“You will see less of that Congress types” coming into Utah, “than you may have seen in the past,” said Hansen.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be some national GOP leaders coming in.
For example, said Hansen, Mitt Romney is a strong Love supporter and you likely will see Romney making appearances and doing fundraisers for Love.
“As far as endorsements,” said Hansen, plan on more work being done by Utah GOP politicians – like GOP Gov. Gary Herbert.
The Zions Bank/UtahPolicy poll has Herbert at a fine 68 percent job approval rating in the 4thDistrict. Among Republicans, Herbert’s approval is a stratospheric 90 percent.
You may or may not see Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on the stump for Love.
In the 4th District Lee’s approval rating is a dismal (by Utah standards) 46 percent; with 45 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing.
Owens has already tipped his campaign hand on Lee/Love: In a spring debate with Love, Owens slammed her time and again for appearing at a 2013 Lee rally just after the federal government shut down, a shutdown Lee was partly blamed for.
Owens video folks would love (no pun intended) to have tape of Love and Lee standing arm in arm at some public Love event this year.
Among 4th District independent voters, Lee’s disapproval rating is 60 percent.
So having Lee campaigning for Love is not going to help her among that much-needed group of voters.
In any case, two years ago 4th District voters didn’t know Love well, said Hansen. And bringing in outside GOP House leaders helped introduce her to the public.
Polling shows this year Love is well known, said Hansen.
What is needed now is to get them to understand, and see, the real Love, what she stands for, who she is, said Hansen.
And outside bigshots don’t really help there.
Also, fund raising for Love has gone much better this time around, said Hansen.
Two years ago – Hansen was running Hatch’s re-election, but paying attention to Love’s campaign – Love’s money was “hand to mouth, they spend it as it came in.”
So outside fundraisers were needed.
In 2014 Love’s fund raising has “been just fine” without those national names coming in to hold events.
So, considering the poll numbers in 2014, it is best to run a Utah-based campaign for Love, and leave the GOP U.S. House bigshots at arms length.