If the Utah Colleges Exit Poll estimate accurately reflects all absentee voters, Love will make up some of the current deficit but eventually lose by 1,572 votes.
This analysis was performed by Matthew Frei, a student research fellow at BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (like us on Facebook), in collaboration with CSED faculty. The writing is mostly his. Inquiries about this research should come to Quin Monson.
Counties in Utah’s 4th congressional district have been working long hours since election day to count absentee and provisional ballots. November 20th is the state-mandated deadline for counties to publish final vote totals. With such a close race in Utah’s fourth congressional district, the outcome will depend on absentee and provisional ballots tallies. Most of those ballots were cast by voters in Salt Lake County, but some are also from Utah, Juab, and Sanpete Counties.
Currently, Representative Matheson is leading Republican challenger Mia Love by only 2,646 votes. We don’t know exactly how many ballots remain to be counted. So, let’s take a look at a few scenarios. The chart below show the proportion of uncounted ballots Mia Love would have to win to close the gap. The numbers in the chart below assume that 2.6% of uncounted ballots will be cast for someone other than Matheson or Love.
So, how likely is it that Love could win?
According to the Salt Lake Tribune there are about 28,700 absentee ballots that remain to be counted. To win, Mia Love would have to take about 53.32% of the absentee ballots.1 How likely is that? This year, our Utah Colleges Exit Poll included a sample of early voters. 214 of the absentee voters surveyed live in the 4th congressional district. Among those voters, Mia Love won 51.4%, Jim Matheson won 47.7%, with the rest going to someone else. If the Utah Colleges Exit Poll estimate accurately reflects all absentee voters, Love will make up some of the current deficit but eventually lose by 1,572 votes. It is important to note that there is a 6.7% margin of error around our projection of Mia Love’s absentee vote percentage. Mia Love’s actual percentage could be between 58.1% and 44.7% of absentee votes.
The bottom line: Mia Love could still be elected, but this is unlikely. While she is leading among absentee voters in our sample, the lead doesn’t appear to be big enough to overtake him (and the uncertainty around the estimate is substantial). Love would need either a much larger number of uncounted absentee ballots or a larger win among the current estimated number of absentee ballots.