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In two Utah races, polls are farther apart than candidates
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Within the span of a few hours, polls showed the Ben McAdams campaign was either getting blown out by double-digits in his bid to become Salt Lake County mayor, or holding onto a slim lead over Republican Mark Crockett.

It's rare for two similar surveys conducted over the same period time, looking at the same electorate come to such bafflingly different results and the answer to which of the polls is right — or at least close to the truth — won't be known until election night.

Last week, a poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and another for KSL and the Deseret News differed by 13 points in the McAdams-Crockett race, a discrepancy that can't be chalked up to normal statistical margins of error.

The Tribune poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research showed Crockett with a 10-point advantage, while the KSL/Deseret News poll, by Dan Jones & Associates, had McAdams leading by three.

And in the 4th Congressional District race between Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson and Republican Mayor Mia Love, Mason-Dixon showed Love leading by 12, while the Dan Jones poll had her up by four.

Both McAdams and Matheson responded by releasing their own internal polling which served mainly to bolster the Dan Jones results — McAdams' numbers showed him holding a 3.6 point advantage and Matheson's showed a 2-point margin in his favor.

Quin Monson, director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, said it is clear that there should be more transparency in how the polls were conducted and, without knowing how the samples were drawn and weighted, how the questions were asked and what the demographic breakdowns were, it's hard to explain the differences.

"I don't think it serves anyone well to have poll numbers out there where you can't figure out how they were produced," he said, adding that posting the full results online ought to be the norm.

"The lack of transparency is troubling because of the disparate findings, and the truth is, those results have real consequences," Monson said. "Polling results affect the momentum candidates have, they affect the ability to raise last-minute funds, to drive get-out-the-vote efforts. It affects the enthusiasm your voters feel."

Monson's own poll in mid-October showed a the Matheson-Love race knotted at 43 percent each.

On Sunday, the Democratic-leaning Alliance For A Better Utah added to the mix, releasing results of a poll it had completed Thursday, showing McAdams up 3.3 percent and Matheson down 4.7 percent — nearly mirroring the Dan Jones numbers.

The Alliance For A Better Utah poll drew on a heavy GOP sample — 56 percent Republicans, 32 percent independents and 10 percent Democrats — in order to mirror a year where, like 2012, high Republican turnout is expected.

"No matter what you may think, and no matter what any given poll says, every vote matters," Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Alliance for a Better Utah, said in a statement. "This election season has seen nearly as many political polls as political ads, with just as much variety."

Both county mayoral candidates say they're plowing ahead with their campaign, mobilizing voters and preparing for a tight finish on Tuesday.

"This is anybody's race and it's going to come down to who turns out to vote on Tuesday," McAdams said. "At this point, it's just about connecting to voters, talking to undecided voters, and trying to earn their support and getting people who are inclined to vote for me and making sure they vote."

And Crockett said that, while he believes he's ahead, the race could still go either way.

"My sense is that it's somewhere right in the middle, and that would be consistent with where it has been for a long time," Crockett said of the polling. "We're three to five points up and it's still too close to call, and that's what our numbers show as well."

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke The Salt Lake Tribune poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research

Salt Lake County Mayor

Mark Crockett: 48 percent

Ben McAdams: 38 percent

4th Congressional District

Mia Love: 52 percent

Jim Matheson: 40 percent

Telephone survey of 625 likely voters conducted Oct. 29-31. Margin of error +/- 4 percent

KSL/Deseret News poll by Dan Jones & Associates

Salt Lake County Mayor

Ben McAdams: 44 percent

Mark Crockett: 41 percent

Telephone survey of 523 registered voters conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 1. Margin of error +/- 4.3 percent.

4th Congressional District

Mia Love: 48 percent

Jim Matheson: 43 percent

Survey of 414 registered voters, conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 1. Margin of error +/- 4.8 percent

Alliance For A Better Utah poll

Salt Lake County Mayor

Ben McAdams: 48.6 percent

Mark Crockett: 45.4 percent

4th Congressional District

Mia Love: 49.7 percent

Jim Matheson: 45.1 percent

Telephone surevey of 436 likely voters conducted Nov. 1. Margin of error +/- 4.7 percent

Politics • In the face of polling discrepancies, hopefuls plowing ahead, anticipating close race.
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