Independent Poll Shows Owens Over Love, But Dems May be Premature in Celebrating

Mia Love (Republican) and Doug Owens (Democrat) faced off on Tuesday. Both candidates are seeking the congressional seat in Utah's 4th district.
Mia Love (Republican) and Doug Owens (Democrat)

Yesterday, Utah Data Points released a poll stating that the Congressional race for House District 4 between Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens appears to be tightening up with a week prior to Election Day.

The poll, which shows that Owens is leading Love by 3.6 percent, has been a rallying point for Democrats who have consistently seen poll numbers with Owens trailing between 9 and 12 points behind Love.

The relatively new district, which is being vacated by Congressman Jim Matheson, has proven to be a source of extremely tight races. In 2012 Matheson defeated Love by 768 votes and it appears that this race may be no different.

But, from a statistical standpoint, it may be premature for Democrats to pop the champagne.

The poll, which Utah Data Points admits features an extremely small sample size, which equates to a very large margin of error.

Presuming that roughly 247,000 voters hit the ballot box, mathematically, the 236 who participated in the poll means that the margin of error clocks in at 6.38 percent – meaning that Owens could be up by as much as nearly ten points or down nearly three percent. Considering that a victory three percent is considered a safe seat for congressional races, it is clear that the race is far from over between the two candidates.

Naturally, the news of the BYU backed poll spurred a number of reactions on social media. Former Democratic Party Chair and current Salt Lake Senator, Jim Dabakis, used the news as an opportunity to remind those in the fourth district that every vote matters and encouraged his followers to volunteer to help Owens achieve victory. The Owens camp released a fundraising email featuring Matheson and asking for donations.

The Love camp, however, has remained quiet in the wake of the poll.

Though the results may be dramatic, they do follow a trend of slipping poll numbers for Love. Early polls showed Love up by as much as 12 points earlier this year, decreasing to 9 back in August. Two consistent themes have been lurking in poll results: Owens is consistently winning over undecided voters and, similarly, Love has been hampered by high unfavorable ratings among voters in the district.

Owens has also appeared to tighten up on his education message going into the final weeks of the election, hammering Love after she has appeared to backpedal on comments Love made during the 2012 election advocating for the elimination of the Department of Education. Similarly, Owens ads have pointed to 2012 campaign literature that states that her “initial plan” to reduce federal spending include eliminating K-12 education subsidies and student aid.

With one week to go until election day, it is clear that the race for Congressional District 4 has become much more interesting.

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