First, the good news. Both Rep. Mia Love and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams get good job approval ratings from voters in the 4th CD.
The bad news? McAdams has higher positives and lower negatives than Love, which is why the Congressional race between the two has tightened up. Love leads McAdams by a slim four-point margin among likely voters in the 4th CD according to our latest survey.
We also asked likely voters whether they approve or disapprove of the job performance of Love and McAdams, we got mostly positive responses.
Love's job performance was viewed positively by 56% of 4th District voters, while 39% said they held a disapproving view of her job performance, which comes out to a net favorable rating of +17.
McAdams is held in higher regard by 4th District voters, as 69% approve of his job performance while just 17% rated his job performance negatively. That's a net positive rating of +52, slightly more than three times higher than Love's positive approval number. No matter how you slice it, that could spell trouble for the two-term incumbent Republican.
The job approval numbers also loosely correlate to name ID numbers. Only 5% of voters in the 4th District do not have an opinion of Love, while 15% have no opinion of McAdams. Simply put, fewer voters have formed an opinion of McAdams at this point in the race. That 10-point gap between the two isn't much, but it could be enough to tip the scales in a race that is a statistical tie right now.
Love's job approval ratings will likely move up a bit based on her recent performance. She played a part in the freeing of American Josh Holt from a Venezuelan prison as well as pushed through a bill rolling back some regulations on banks. She also has joined an effort to force a vote on a raft of immigration bills, including protections for so-called "dreamers."
If those moves are meant to improve her standing among voters, her early political attacks on McAdams are obviously designed to eat into his approval ratings and get those voters who don't yet know him to form an unfavorable opinion.
So far, she has:
- Hit McAdams for supporting "unrestricted abortion." McAdams vociferously defended himself from that characterization, calling her attack "offensive."
- Attempted to tie him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a frequent bogeyman in Utah politics. McAdams has repeatedly said he would not support Pelosi for Speaker if he wins and Democrats take control of the House in November.
- Hammered him for working for the Clintons, another repellant political figurer to many Utahns. He interned in the Clinton White House while in college and had worked as part of the advance team for President Bill Clinton. He also endorsed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
Given that McAdams disapproval ratings are less than half of Love's disapproval, it makes sense that she would try to drag McAdams down. Every percentage point McAdams's approval drops is that much more ground he has to make up in November.
86% of Republicans give Love good job approval ratings, while 62% give McAdams high marks. McAdams will need to peel away Republican voters if he's going to have a shot at unseating Love. But, his favorable ratings among that group are soft, as 52% say they only "somewhat" approve of him, while 42% of Republicans say they "strongly" approve of Love's work.
Independent voters have soured on Love's job performance, with only 39% saying they approve, and 55% disapproving. Meanwhile, McAdams gets 66% approval among independents and 17% disapproval.
Not surprisingly, Democratic voters love McAdams and despise Love, but that's not the battleground on which this race will be won.
McAdams's approval rating is much stronger than Love's across several demographic groups:
Younger voters approve of McAdams much more than they do of Love's job performance. Among older voters in the district, the numbers get closer, but they still mostly favor McAdams.
- 68% of men approve of McAdams, while 58% give Love good job approval ratings.
- McAdams's approval rating among women is 14-points higher than Love's (69-54%).
- 70% of 18-24 year-olds approve of McAdams, while just 36% approve of Love's job performance, a 34-point gap.
- 80% of 25-34-year-olds say they approve of McAdams's job performance. Only 46% of that group approve of Love. Again, that's a 34-point difference.
- 61% of those 35-44 give McAdams good job approval ratings, while 45% agree with Love's job performance - a 16-point gap.
- McAdams has a 2-point margin in job performance among Utahns 45-54 (66-59%), and an 11-point margin in the 55-64 age group (71-60%).
- Love slightly outpolls McAdams in Job performance among voters 65 and older, 69-67%.
Both McAdams and Love are members of the LDS Church, and there's a definite "religion gap" between the two candidates regarding job performance.
- "Very active" Mormons give Love a higher job approval than McAdams, with 78% approving of Love and 63% approving of McAdams.
- "Somewhat active" members of the LDS Church give the two candidates similar approval numbers, with 65% approving of Love and 63% approving of McAdams.
- Mormons who are not active in the Church see McAdams much more favorably than Love, with 73% approving of McAdams and just 45% approving of Love's job performance.
- Utah Catholics do not like Mia Love at all, with only 10% giving her favorable approval ratings. McAdams does much better among Catholics as 79% approve of his job performance.
- Protestants support Love much more than McAdams, with 62% giving the incumbent good job approval marks while only 47% approve of McAdams.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted May 15-June 5, 2018 among 405 likely voters in Utah's 4th Congressional District. It has a margin of error of 5.0%.