The tides could be turning in Utah’s hottest race of the 2018 election season, according to a new poll that puts Democrat Ben McAdams in the lead against two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Mia Love.
“We think that the race has been and continues to be very, very close,” said Alyson Heyrend, a campaign spokeswoman for McAdams. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”
McAdam’s 6-point lead falls outside the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.2 percent, and follows multiple polls — including one by The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics — that showed the race as tied, despite the district’s conservative leanings.
KUTV is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative media company and the largest owner of television stations in the United States. It partnered on the poll with Dixie Strategies, a Republican-leaning political consulting, public relations and polling firm based in Florida, to survey 936 likely voters in the district on October 25.
Love’s pollster, Scott Riding of Y2 Analytics, was skeptical of the new polling numbers. He said the KUTV-Dixie Strategies survey relied heavily on automated phone calls, which generate results that inaccurately skew Democratic in the state.
“We’ve tested robo-dialing in Utah,” Riding said. “There’s something odd about it.”
Speaking to KUTV, McAdams remarked that polling is more of an art than a science.
“The only poll that counts is the one on Election Day,” he said.
Compared with previous polling, the KUTV-Dixie Strategies survey suggests that support for Love is eroding among her conservative base, with only 68 percent of Republican participants indicating their support for the incumbent. McAdams carried the support of 91.5 percent of Democratic voters, according to the poll.
The poll also shows McAdams with an overwhelming 86.6 percent of unaffiliated or third-party voters, compared with 7.5 percent for Love.