Poll Shows Love Would Have Close Race Against Owens or Winder in 2016

Rep. Mia Love would have another close race on her hands against Democrat Doug Owens, and would win a hypothetical matchup with Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, according to a new UtahPolicy.com survey.

Love would best Owens by a 50-41% margin if the election were held today, according to our poll. That's a similar margin to the 2014 matchup between the two candidates which saw Love prevail by a 5-point margin, 51-46%.

Our survey finds Love hasn't picked up much if any, support among voters since last year's election, as she's barely above 50%. At the same time, Owens' support has eroded a bit.
Love outraised and outspent Owens by a 5-1 margin in 2014. Despite that deficit, Owens came within 4,000 votes of knocking off the Republican in her second quest for the Congressional seat.  Owens has not yet decided whether he's going to challenge Love again in 2016.
Another name being bandied about by Democrats as a possible Congressional candidate is Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. When matched up against Love, the results are similar to the hypothetical contest with Owens. Love pulls in 52% while Winder gets 41%. 

Even though Winder has much less name ID than Owens, who is just coming off a Congressional run, he gets the same amount of support. 
More significant is Love's level of support does not go up when matched against a relative unknown like Winder. This suggests that Love is still a polarizing figure, and she still has much work to do to improve her standing among voters. Even though she is at or barely above 50% in both matchups, Love probably shouldn't hit the panic button just yet. She is an incumbent in a heavily Republican district, and she does enjoy a 54% approval rating among 4th District voters while just 39% disapprove. That gives her a net positive approval rating of 15%.
Love's strongest base of support in both matchups is Republican voters. She garners 80% of GOP voters against Owens and 82% against Winder. However, a majority of independent voters (55%-36%) would pick Owens over Love. Independents would barely favor Winder over Love by a 48-39% margin. Both men would need to win independents by a larger margin, plus increase support from Republicans to have a shot at knocking off Love in 2016.
There is a religious divide in Utah's 4th Congressional District. Love holds a sizeable lead over both men among active Mormons while those of other faiths gravitate toward Owens and Winder.

  • "Active" members of the LDS faith support Love over Owens by a 63-29% margin. The same group picks Love over Winder by 68-23%.
  • "Somewhat active" Mormons prefer Love over Owens by 52-34%. The same group favors Love over Winder 52-43%.
  • "Not active" members of the Church are split with 51% picking either Owens or Winder while 49% would vote for Love.
  • Catholics choose Owens over Love by a 64-27% tally. Winder bests Love 73-19 among this group.
  • Protestants favor Owens over Love 56-32%. The same group favors Winder by an identical 56-23% margin. 
If either Owens or Winder mounts a challenge to Love next year, there are clearly some things the two men need to work on. Top of the list is fundraising to bridge the massive money gap with Love. They also need to find a way to appeal more to GOP voters and Mormons. 
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones and Associates from May 4-12, 2015. 206 registered voters in Utah's 4th Congressional District were contacted. The poll has a margin of error of +/-6.83%