Republican challenger Morgan Philpot has run a well-conceived and smartly-executed campaign. He developed a credible message and scrupulously avoided any external drama. But, according to Dan Jones' latest poll of 226 likely voters in the 2nd Congressional District, that's simply not enough. The blue bubble over Salt Lake City is just too strong, and it looks like Jim Matheson is going back to the House for two more years. Here are the numbers:
-- Jim Matheson (D): 57 percent
-- Morgan Philpot (R): 31 percent
-- Randall Hinton (Con): 1 percent
-- Dave Glissmeyer (Ind): 1 percent
-- Wayne L. Hill (Ind): LT 1 percent
-- Other/Don't Know: 9 percent
Dave Glissmeyer actually suspended his campaign back on June 26th, 2010, but decided to keep his name on the ballot anyway. KSL news video embedded below:
Jim Matheson credits his record for the results. "Regardless of what's going on with national politics and everything else, I think they appreciate the fact that I'm an honest, common sense voice. I'm not a rubber stamp for any political party, and I'm just trying to get things done," Matheson said. Read Matheson's full statement HERE. In contrast, Morgan Philpot thinks negative ads from Matheson's campaign undermined his efforts. "My opponent has sent out some pretty misleading and false hit pieces on me, and you have to wonder: Why does Goliath attack David if he's really not worried, as he said before, about this race?", said Philpot. Blogger Holly Richardson notes that Matheson's latest attack ad accuses Morgan Philpot of wanting to slap a 23 percent tax on all Americans; this is in reference to the Fair Tax, which would REPLACE the Federal income tax with a national sales tax. Matheson has also tried to scare seniors into voting for him by claiming that "Philpot would risk your social security in the stock market".
Dan Jones, emeritus chairman of Dan Jones & Associates, said that while the Republican Party is trending nationally, Matheson has benefited from voting against health care reform. Customarily, some 35 percent of Republicans in the district vote for him. "If Mr. Philpot can get a lot of those Republicans to come home, it could be a closer election," Jones said. But Matheson also derives benefit from the fact that he's part of the Democratic "Blue Dog" Caucus, a contingent that at least nominally shows more independence than other Congressional Democrats. But Matheson has also repeatedly voted for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.
A recent Utah Policy Poll showed that although Jim Matheson had 46 percent, Philpot had 30 percent, with 20 percent still undecided. A Sarah Palin endorsement appears not to have had any appreciable effect. KSTU Channel 13 also recently reported on another poll conducted by Utah Policy which shows that Republicans don't think Sarah Palin's endorsement is a "game changer". If this Dan Jones poll is representative as his results usually are, I don't see how Morgan Philpot can come back from 26 points behind with just three weeks to go. But it can be useful to have a pipeline into the opposition, and one can do worse than to use Jim Matheson as a pipeline.
Rocky Anderson, anyone?
The Deseret News version of the story also states that in the First District, Republican Congressman Rob Bishop is leading Democratic challenger Morgan Bowen 67-22 percent, while in the Third District, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz leads Democratic challenger Karen Hyer 67-19 percent.