The needle hasn't moved much since Mia Love defeated Doug Owens in Utah's 4th Congressional District in 2014. On election night, Love beat Owens by five percentage points. A new UtahPolicy.com poll finds Love with an 11-point lead over Owens in Utah's 4th Congressional District.
The survey finds Love with 49% support while Owens sits at 38%. 12% say they are undecided.
Love has struggled mightily to break the 50% barrier since she started running for Congress in 2012. She got 50.92% of the vote on election night against Owens. A May UtahPolicy.com survey found her with 52%. The newest survey has her under majority support, which is not an ideal position for an incumbent candidate.
Love has been keeping a relatively low profile during her first year in Congress. However, that has changed in the past month as Love has faced tough questions for using her Congressional account to pay for a trip to a gala party in Washington, D.C. But she earned cheers from conservatives for her stance against federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country in the 2016 cycle despite the overwhelming Republican advantage. Mitt Romney won the district in 2012 by 38-points.
David Hansen, Love's campaign spokesperson, said in a statement, "Congresswoman Mia Love takes nothing for granted in her reelection campaign. While the poll numbers show her in a strong position 14 months before the election, she will continue to work hard serving the people of the 4th district in Congress."
Love added, "I made a commitment to the voters to represent their desires, to fight to bring federal spending under control, and to bring government decision-making back to the people. I am working diligently to keep those promises and will continue to do so."
The Owens campaign cheered the results.
Taylor Morgan, Owens' campaign strategist, said, "This confirms what we've known all along. It's a competitive race and Doug is working hard for every vote."
Owens has been almost completely out of the public eye since his 2014 loss. Since that time he has been the subject of rampant speculation he would take on Love again in 2016. He officially announced his candidacy in July.
An August survey found Love's approval rating in the district at 48% while 46% disapproved. That's a mere +2% favorable rating, which is not ideal for an incumbent member of Congress.
The new survey shows Love has a strong base of support among Republicans while Democrats and independents favor Owens.
- Love leads among Republicans 81-6%.
- Not surprisingly Owens wins Democrats 95-2%.
- Independent voters pick Owens by a 54-29% margin.
In order for Owens to have a chance of upsetting Love in 2016, he needs to improve his numbers among Republicans while capturing a larger portion of independent voters since he can't win by appealing only to Democrats. That's the same formula former Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson used to stay in office for 12 years.
The Love/Owens matchup looks to break along ideological lines as well, with conservatives picking Love while moderates and liberals are falling behind Owens.
- "Very conservative" Utahns pick Love 85-8%.
- Those who say they are "somewhat conservative" back Love 57-25%.
- Owens wins a majority of moderates by 53-32%.
- "Somewhat liberal" Utahns pick Owens 76-8%.
- "Those who say they are "very liberal" overwhelmingly back Owens 89-0%.
The survey was conducted from September 8-23, 2015 among 405 adult Utahns in the 4th Congressional District. Margin of error +/- 4.87%.