Bye-Bye Jim

The Star Tribune released a poll last night that, if accurate, is going to spell the end of Blue Dog Democrat Jim Matheson's Congressional career.

For 12 years, Jim Matheson has been a political escape artist, managing to wiggle free from every trap the Utah Republicans have thrown his way.

But after six successful elections, his charmed political run may be coming to an end.

Matheson trails Republican challenger Mia Love 52 percent to 40 percent in a new poll conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune, a large margin in a race where, even a few days ago, both campaigns were predicting a tight finish.

Rep. Matheson, being the good Democrat that he is, has a slightly different take on reality. 

Matheson said lots of polls will have lots of different numbers, and put out a memo from his own polling firm, also completed this week, which shows him with a 2-point lead over Love.

Past polls have shown Mayor Love slowly gaining and finally passing Matheson in the final weeks of the campaign. 

One of the more interesting take aways...

The Tribune poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, found that the coalition of Democrats, independents, moderate Republicans and women that Matheson has united in past elections is failing to coalesce this time around, with just 9 percent of Republicans crossing over to support him.

The problem with that is, this coalition was built in a totally different district.  The majority of the 4th CD is made up of areas that elected Jason Chaffetz handily.  For Matheson to think he could do the same in such a different district?  Delusional comes to mind...

Matheson’s poll showed him getting 19 percent of GOP support.

Completely delusional...

Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon, said that Matheson may be falling victim to the popularity of Mitt Romney.

"Romney is winning [Utah] by such a big margin and Republican voters are coming out because of Romney," Coker said. "It’s just not a good year to be a Democrat in Utah."

Maybe in the 4th District.  If Matheson had stayed in the "safe" 2nd Distrcit, he could have easily bucked that trend.  The 2nd District (most of Salt Lake City, Park City, Western - aka heavily union - Salt Lake County) was designed to make it easier for a moderate Democrat (which is the ONLY kind of Democrat that will win state wide election in this state - sorry rwarnick) to win.  A moderate Democrat that does not think that the GOP is an evil monster to be slain, will do well in the 2nd District. 

I am still surprised that Matheson didn't stay in the "safe" district that was created for him.   He would have still been able to maintain the coalition of moderates and independents that voted for him year after year.  I told friends that when Matheson announced his jump to the 4th that it was a mistake and it is looking more and more every day like I was right.  Although I knew he had some cross over appeal on name recognition only, I knew it was not enough to overcome the conservative base that Congressman Chaffetz had built in West Jordan, South Jordan, Herriman and Northern Utah County (Lehi, Eagle Mountain and Love's own Saratoga Springs).

I'm sorry to see Congressman Matheson go in some ways .  Single party rule, no matter which party it is, is not a good thing.  Just ask California or Illinois.  A vibrant two party system is necessary for electoral participation.  Jim Matheson's defeat - a defeat of his own doing - will set Utah Democrats back for a good long while.

Written by LL.

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