Does Democrat Doug Owens have a lead on Republican Mia Love in the final week of the election? Probably not.
Is the race in Utah's 4th District tightening up? Absolutely.
On Monday BYU released a poll that sent shockwaves through the Utah political universe. It said Doug Owens was ahead of Mia Love. Democrats started celebrating and Republicans immediately moved to discredit the survey.
This is not meant to be a critical takedown of the BYU survey. They clearly felt confident enough in their results to make them public. I'm not going to fault them for sending out the numbers.
But, here's a little insight into our process.
On Friday, we at Utah Policy got some poll numbers from Utah's 4th District that gave us pause. They were striking enough that, if we were to release them, it would cause a similar stir in Utah politics. However, we decided the sample was too small to give an accurate picture of the race. We had a healthy and extensive discussion about whether the results should be made public. If we had, it would have created a sensation and brought us a ton of attention. When you live and die by page clicks, the temptation was great.
In the end, we (along with our pollster Dan Jones) decided that our numbers were not yet ready for prime time, so we declined to release them. Our sample size was not large enough and the margin of error was too big.
We've decided to head back into the field to get more numbers for that race and will release our results on Friday.
The BYU numbers served their purpose. Everybody started talking about them and it gave CSED tons of attention.
But, even the BYU pollsters are walking back a little on their original assertion that Owens has a lead on Love.
It's clear the race is getting closer.
On Friday of last week, Mia Love's campaign spent part of the day attacking Owens on social media. That's the first time we've seen that happen during this election season and a sure sign they think the race is tightening as well.
Have you ever heard the expression "never punch down"? If you are in the lead, acknowledging your opponent only legitimizes them and gives them publicity you'd rather they not have.
That's why Mia Love is hitting back at Owens. Until now, their marketing has been very positive and didn't mention her opponent at all, unless it was in a backhanded way like the "Attacking problems, not people" tagline on one of her billboards.
Now, it's direct attacks on Owens, even though they still don't say his name.
We will have a better idea where this race stands on Friday morning when UtahPolicy releases our current round of poll results.
Until then, we can get excited that this race appears to be getting closer.