SALT LAKE CITY — The 4th Congressional District race between Republican Rep. Mia Love and Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is now a toss-up, a key national political rating entity announced Wednesday.
The Cook Political Report, an independent, nonpartisan newsletter widely viewed as authoritative, shifted the race from lean Republican to toss-up, noting President Donald Trump's "dismal Utah numbers make this a highly competitive race."
Utah's 4th District, which includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties, was one of eight congressional districts around the country that analyst David Wasserman moved toward Democratic wins in the November midterm election.
"Party strategists are arguing over what's the bigger factor in Love's re-election math: drag from President Trump's unpopularity, or a life from Mitt Romney's Senate bid" in Utah, Wasserman posted.
He said either way, the contest between Love and McAdams "looks likely to go down to the wire," citing a late August poll for UtahPolicy.com that gave the congresswoman only a 3-point lead in the race, within the margin of error.
Wasserman says McAdams "has built a unique brand as a wonky, nerdy Mormon Democrat and cultivated relationships with Republican mayors," while Love has "worked hard to change her initial reputation from 2012 as a spotlight seeker."
The two-term congresswoman lost her first run for Congress in 2012, to then-Rep. Jim Matheson, the last Democrat to represent Utah in Washington. Love won the seat in 2014 after Matheson retired and again in 2016.
McAdams tweeted the news, saying the Cook Political Report "must be seeing the same incredible enthusiasm and support for our campaign that I’m seeing from Republicans, independent and Democrats on the ground here in Utah!"
Love's pollster, Scott Riding, said in a statement that two years ago, "Cook rated this race as 'lean Republican' and the congresswoman won by 13 points. Other handicappers disagree with Cook’s assessment of Utah, and so do we."
Riding said both Sabato's Crystal Ball, from the University of Virginia Center for Politics' Larry Sabato, and the Washington, D.C.-based Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, rate the race as leaning Republican.
And Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site gives Love an 84.3 percent chance of winning, Riding said.
None of the other three Utah congressional races are seen as competitive. A rating entity that aggregates polling, RealClearPolitics.com, has had the 4th District race in the toss-up category.
Trump's popularity has long lagged in Utah, one of the nation's most Republican states. A recent statewide UtahPolicy.com poll showed a majority of Utahns don't want a second term for the president.