Poll: Matheson Up 7 on Love
Published: October 15, 2012 09:58AM
Updated: October 15, 2012 06:06PM
image
Steve Griffin | Tribune file photo GOP challenger Mia Love and Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson shake hands during a television debate in September. Matheson won the election by a whisker and also prevailed in the fundraising contest by a narrow margin.

Good news for voters in the 4th Congressional District: No matter who you’re backing, there’s a poll that shows your candidate is winning.

The House Majority PAC and Center Forward PAC — both Democratic groups — released poll numbers today that showed Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson holding a seven-point lead over Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, 48 percent to 41 percent.

"These numbers speak for themselves. Jim has been an independent voice in Washington for years, and it is clear that Utahns know that he will continue to work across the aisle to develop commonsense solutions to our nation's biggest challenges,” said Alixandria Lapp, executive director of the House Majority PAC. "One thing's for sure, Utahns know that Mia Love has the wrong priorities."

We now have three polls released in the last five weeks showing vastly different results.

The first was an internal poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee that touted a whopping 15-point lead for Love. Two weeks ago, Dan Jones released a poll that showed Love leading, but by a considerably smaller margin, holding a six-point advantage.

Now we have the House Majority-Center Forward poll of 407 likely voters conducted Oct. 9-10. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percent.

A note about internal polls that really should go without saying: They typically need to be taken with a grain of salt, because they are released with a reason, generally to tout their own candidates’ strength.

There are two things worth noting, one that could bode ill for Matheson, one that points to the race remaining a coin toss.

First, Matheson is not over 50 percent in any of the three polls, which is usually where an incumbent would want to be. I would think that is especially true this year, where everyone is expecting a strong Republican turnout.

Second, the Dan Jones poll had an 8 percent undecided, and the House Majority-Center Forward poll had 11 percent undecided. That would seem to indicate that how the undecideds break could still decide the winner in the Fourth.

UPDATED: So I got a fascinating number from the new 4th District poll that points out what will be a deciding factor in the 4th District race.

You may have seen my story over the weekend, looking at the importance of women voters — a group that Matheson had consistently won by double digits and, according to the Dan Jones poll, now trails by 10 points.

The House Majority-Center Forward poll, however, paints a very different story: Their poll shows Matheson crushing Love among women voters, by a margin of 54-36.

That's a big margin and a stark contrast to the Dan Jones poll. It also would indicate Matheson is trailing among men, which would be in line with Matheson's results from 2010.

It's hard to know which is correct, but I think it reinforces what BYU Political Science Professor Adam Brown said in my weekend story: "The outcome of this race probably depends on how women vote."

-- Robert Gehrke
Twitter: @RobertGehrke