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McAdams, Owens 4th District race now deemed a ‘toss-up,’ new report says

Aug 14, 2020, 3:16 PM
4th Congressional District, Burgess Owens pulls ahead 2,095 votes in Utah’s 4th District...
Rep. Ben McAdams, and Republican challenger Burgess Owens both pictured in 2020 file photos. (Scott G Winterton and Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton and Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District is too close to call, according to a new report from The Cook Political report — which declared the race a “toss-up.” 

Cook backtracked its original predictions — which put incumbent Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, narrowly ahead the eventual Republican nominee — after Burgess Owens was nominated in June. The race originally leaned favorably toward the incumbent Democrat, but now rests in the center. 

4th District race sits at a tie

This comes after a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll showed a tie between McAdams and Owens, with both pulling 35% of registered voters in the district. Roughly 24% say they are still unsure who they’ll vote for. 

However, the Cook Political Report categorizes the area as an R+13 district — meaning the Utah district is 13 more percentage points Republican compared to the rest of the country. Despite this, McAdams was able to manage a victory — albeit it narrow — over then-incumbent Mia Love in 2018. 

Now, he’s the only Democrat in Utah’s Congress. And Republicans want to change that. 

GOP seeks to unseat McAdams

Although McAdams presents himself as a centrist Democrat, critics often paint him as an ally to figures who are are unpopular within the GOP — such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

On the other hand, Owens — a former NFL player — has positioned himself farther to the right, closely aligning himself with President Donald Trump (who endorsed Owens shortly after his primary victory). 

Owens has painted himself as a champion for religious conservatives, serving on the Latter-day Saints for Trump advisory board unveiled by the president’s re-election campaign team. 

Despite the tight race, McAdams’ job approval ratings have generally been strong within the district. According to a Deseret/Hinckley Poll conducted in April, 47% of registered voters in the district either “strongly” or “somewhat” approved of the Congressman’s performance. 

Twenty-four percent of voters reported they were unsure. 

However, the same poll found an almost-even split between voters on whether they would re-elect McAdams. These one-third sections reported they would either vote for him again, choose someone else or were unsure. 

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McAdams, Owens 4th District race now deemed a ‘toss-up,’ new report says