House Republicans are trying to keep the heat on Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, releasing a poll Thursday that shows him with a slight advantage over GOP challenger Mia Love with 18 months to go before Election Day.
The National Republican Congressional Committee says their poll is evidence Matheson is in trouble in his rematch with Love, whom he beat by less than 800 votes in 2012.
Though this far out, the big take away from the NRCC polling is how much effort the national party is expending on Matheson's race. And it should be noted that the poll seemed to go out of its way to tie Matheson to President Barack Obama.
The NRCC contracted with the Republican firm Harper Polling, which contacted 587 Utahns on May 15 and May 16, finding that 44 percent would vote for Matheson, who was identified as a Democrat, if the election were held today and 41 percent would support Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs. Fifteen percent were not sure.
That question came right after one where the pollster asked if respondents wanted "A Republican who will be a check and balance to President Obama or a Democratic candidate who will help President Obama to pass his agenda?"
Not surprisingly in conservative Utah, that 56 percent said they wanted a Republican check and balance and only 27 percent said a Democratic ally of the president.
Obama is wildly unpopular in Utah and Matheson has worked to distance himself from his party's leader, though he acknowledged voting for Obama last year.
The NRCC poll found that Obama had a 26 percent approval rate in Utah. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
-- Matt Canham
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