The HubCap Spin | Love or Owens: Who Wins the Race for Congressional District 4?

The HubCap Spin | Love or Owens: Who Wins the Race for Congressional District 4?
The HubCap Spin | Love or Owens: Who Wins the Race for Congressional District 4?
Republican Mia Love (left) and Democrat Doug Owens (right) face off in the race for Utah Congressional District 4.

HubCap Spins: Where the Rubber Meets the Road is a collaborative effort of Utah Political Capital (UPC) and Utah Politico Hub (the Hub). One person from each site answers a question about upcoming races, elections, and issues. Last week we looked at the Utah Attorney General race; today we turn to the Fourth Congressional District.

Utah’s Fourth Congressional District has been in the spotlight since even before the district was officially drawn. Adding to the interest is the fact that late last year Congressman Jim Matheson announced that he would not seek an eighth term, making the 4th District the only congressional race in Utah not to have an incumbent on the ballot.

Today’s question: Who will win the Race for Congressional District 4: Republican Mia Love or Democrat Doug Owens?

Holly Richardson
Holly Richardson

HOLLY RICHARDSON (the Hub): Mia Love is well on her way to becoming Congresswoman Love and only the most die-hard, head-in-the-sand opponents think there is any chance she will not win on Nov 4.

Unlike many candidates who run and lose (and sometimes those who run and win), she learned from the 2012 cycle. She was willing to take a hard look at what went wrong and make course corrections, as well as look at what went right and repeat those things.

Here are the top 5 reasons she is going to win.

*She hired great staff – and kept them local. No DC advisors parachuting in to take over. Agree or disagree on the candidates Dave Hansen shepherds through an election cycle, he is very good at understanding and navigating the political jungle. He has a lot of connections and great instincts – and he runs a tight ship.

*Her Get-Out-the-Vote strategy is top notch. Last cycle, it was a bit more hit-and-miss. This time, it is a well-oiled machine, backed by big data. Kitty Dunn is a master at getting to the right voters and getting them out the door and to the polls. The team at Data Elect are really, really good at getting useful, targeted data, something no large campaign can do without.

*She is crushing it in the fundraising department. She has raised money from thousands of individual donors and while she has a high burn rate, she is such a fundraising machine that she can get all of her campaign needs AND wants met. Doug Owens just can’t keep up.

*She is in an R+15 district, without an entrenched opponent with high name ID. That alone could bring her the extra 700-odd votes she was short last time.

*Doug Owens is baking pies in campaign videos. ‘Nuff said.

Curtis Haring
Curtis Haring

CURTIS HARING (UPC): The problem with following political campaigns is that sometimes you tend to over think things. Generally speaking, we have a tendency to over-value what are ultimately unimportant events on the campaign trail and under-value the truly important items.  To hedge my bets I will often say that a candidate will either win by 100 votes or lose by 10 percent.

This is my gut-feeling in the race for the the Congressional District 4 race between Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens.

Owens’ campaign has often run in fits and spurts, coming out strong in an early Utah Taxpayers Association debate but quickly losing momentum with erratic staffing changes, bizarre pie related campaign ads, and an overwhelming pride in polls that state that Owens was still losing by almost 10 points. However, in the past few weeks, Owens appears to have pick up his stride and has the potential to turn CD 4 into a legitimate fight.

Love, however, has done everything right, having learned from a hard fought battle in 2012. Early on she hired long time Republican guru Dave Hansen to manage the message and day-to-day operations – and it appears to have worked.

Love has done a fantastic job of staying uncontroversial during this election. A smart move considering that the number one thing holding Love back (and the only reason I am wanting to hedge my bets) is the fact that she has a very high unfavorability rating. In an August Utah Policy poll, 19 percent of likely voters polled had a somewhat unfavorable feeling towards Love while 24 percent had a very unfavorable feeling towards her.

It appears that Love left a bad taste in many peoples mouths when she tried and failed to defeat outgoing Democratic Congressman, Jim Matheson (who would win this November, according to polls, where he on the ballot).

Within this same Utah Policy poll, however, Owens had an unknown or neutral rating of a whopping 54 percent – a very tall hill to climb indeed. This alone can be enough to call the race for Love.

Most polls don’t have the needle moving much for Owens since the last round of polls came out two months ago, consistently showing a nine to 12 point victory for Love. The huge x factor with a month to go is how well he is able to connect with voters. If, and it is a big if, people learn about Owens and like him, Love could still lose the race.

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