SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Rep. Chris Stewart has a double-digit lead over Democrat Shireen Ghorbani in the 2nd Congressional District race, but his support has fallen below 50 percent, according to a new poll.
The latest UtahPolicy.com poll shows Stewart leading Ghorbani 45 percent to 34 percent. Libertarian Jeffrey Whipple comes in at 5 percent and 16 percent are undecided.
The results put Ghorbani almost within striking distance of the three-term congressman with less than two months until Election Day and mail-in ballots going out in mid-October.
"We're really excited about the poll numbers," Ghorbani said, adding they show her campaign's hard work is paying off.
But, she said, "we know there is room to grow."
Stewart's 45 percent in the new poll puts him well below his performance in the past three elections where he won with no less than 60 percent of the vote.
Even though Stewart enjoys a 48 percent to 27 percent lead over Ghorbani among male voters, he only has a two-point advantage over women voters, according to the survey. Ghorbani holds a slight edge, 39 percent to 37 percent, among independent voters.
Dan Jones & Associates polled 202 likely 2nd District voters from Aug. 22 to Sept. 6. The survey has a 6.9 percent margin of error.
The Stewart campaign doesn't put much stock in the poll.
"Like any professional organization, we question the accuracy of any poll with such a small sample size," according to Stewart campaign manager Lance Stewart.
The campaign last week did its own poll with a sample five times the size of the UtahPolicy.com poll that showed Stewart is on track to win by a similar margin to past elections, he said.
Stewart fared a little better and Ghorbani a little worse in a Utah Debate Commission survey released last month. The poll has Stewart at 49 percent and Ghorbani at 26.8 percent. The commission uses the poll to determine which candidates qualify to participate in the debates it sponsors.
Ghorbani and Stewart are scheduled to square off next Monday at Dixie State University in St. George. Whipple did not meet the commission's 10 percent threshold.
Ghorbani, who works in communications at the University of Utah, said she is running an "absolute" grassroot campaign. Volunteers have knocked on 30,000 doors from Kane County to Davis County and plan to reach 100,000 before the election. She said they're asking people for their vote who haven't been asked in a decade.
"What I am absolutely certain of is that many people feel unrepresented and left out, and that's Republicans, independents and obviously Democrats," she said.