It’s easy for us Republicans to prognosticate Mia Love’s imminent election to Congress. After a decade of Matheson and numerous futile campaigns to unseat him, we have a nationally popular candidate with a great story and a great campaign team.
Victory appears to be on the horizon.
But, as Darth Vader once warned an overconfident Imperial Admiral, it might be worth remembering to not be too proud of what we’ve created. A small band of devoted individuals could still blow everything up.
Whether Utah Democrats have that small band of devoted individuals is the question.
Points to Consider
Democrats love to remind me that Mia Love’s name recognition is not increasing. She’s already a nationally known figure, appearing on Fox News on occasion and receiving more than 58% of her donations from small donors nationwide. With that kind of popularity, it’s going to be hard to find voters in UT-4 who haven’t heard of Mia Love, yet. On the other hand, and Bryan Schott’s already pointed this out, no one knows Doug Owens, yet. And he doesn’t have money to change that.
Utah’s Fourth Congressional District is rated by the Cook Political Report as R+16, meaning that Republicans have a natural 16 percentage point advantage (for example, UT-1 is R+27, which means that Rob Bishop should obliterate his opponent, just as he did in 2012, winning then with 70+% of the vote). However, according to Owens’ poll, Mia Love is only bringing in 50% of the vote right now. However, the poll also said that she was viewed favorably by 52% of the voters and only unfavorably by 42%, which, coincidentally, is exactly the percentage that Owens is getting. In other words, there’s a strong correlation between people voting for Doug and the people who view Mia unfavorably. With an R+16 rating, though, Mia should be polling closer to 64-67%. We‘ll know Mia’s internal polls match Doug’s if we see her get aggressive.
Tom Love Magic?
So does Owens have the right team to capitalize on this? Owens’ media guy is Tom Love (incidentally, he’s also the media guy for Sim Gill, which might explain why both campaigns have a logo that seems to be echoing either each other, a beer label, or a package of sausage. Take your pick). In 2012, Tom Love was the media guy for Ben McAdams, then candidate, now Mayor of Salt Lake County. McAdams may be Utah Democrats’ candidate McDreamy, but when he ran for Mayor of Salt Lake County he was a white, male, elitist attorney (Columbia, 2003). (Coincidentally, McAdams’ opponent in that race happened to also be white, male, and a graduate from an elitist law school…but that’s besides the point). He was behind in the polls and needed to make up ground.
Incidentally, the firm polling for Owens did my polling in 2012. They showed me trailing by 15 points with a narrow path to victory. #utpol
— Ben McAdams (@BenMcAdams) July 28, 2014
Love Communications crafted a campaign that was heavy on bipartisanship, focused on McAdams’ abundantly likable personal characteristics, and stayed far way from the national Democratic label. He won, climbing from a 15 point deficit to do so.
“So you’re saying there’s a chance…”
Sure, Lloyd. Why not.
Let’s assume that Dave Hansen stops being Dave Hansen for a minute. Mia Love could blurt out something insane, like support for Satanists (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) or that she’s actually a Manchurian candidate. Doug Owens could suddenly raise a lot of money, show Utah he’s got more than pie making skills, and make up a 9 point deficit with more campaign ads than Barack Obama ran in Ohio in 2012.
However, after firing his campaign manager in July and hiring someone from Illinois who has never been to the state, that seems a stretch. I mean, the guy’s guy “lorem ipsom” all over his webpage, for heaven’s sake.
It’ll take all of Tom Love’s magic to bring the Doug Owens campaign to par with Mia Love’s.
Unlike McAdams, Owens isn’t running as from a Senate seat where he’s been able to cultivate a reputation as someone others can work with.
Unlike Gill, (whose logo template he appears to share), Owens isn’t running as a DA defending the little guy against police overstep or corrupt politicians (nor is Owens half the poet that Gill is).
No, Owens has to run on his own, non-existent record and his lack–or as yet undeveloped–charisma. With Mia sitting on nearly $900,000 in cash, after raising over $2.8M to Doug’s almost $300,000, Doug just doesn’t have a route to get his name out there, let alone convince a heavily Republican district that he can be trusted.
And that is a narrow path, indeed. If this race is, as I speculate it is, not intended to be won, but merely to lay the groundwork for a future campaign, Tom Love’s job is to make Owens look as good as possible for a future run.
- News roundup: Most Americans don’t like this Obamacare thing (sltrib.com)
- Owens-Love race ‘highly competitive,’ poll says (ksl.com)
- Five Signs Doug Owens Doesn’t Plan on Winning (utahpoliticohub.com)