Competing polls show the gubernatorial race is tightening. Sort of.
Dueling poll numbers were released by the Gary Herbert and Peter Corroon campaigns today, each with its own crowing press release about what the numbers show. The poll commissioned by Herbert was done by Dan Jones & Associates, and shows a 20-point lead for Herbert. Corroon's poll was done by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) and shows Corroon has narrowed the gap to 15 percent.
The numbers are actually not that much different. In both polls, Corroon is in the mid-30s (35 percent in the DJ poll, 36 percent in the FM3 poll) and Herbert is just over 50 percent (55 percent in DJ poll, 51 percent in FM3 poll). But the press releases announcing the results are significantly different.
Corroon's campaign says the FM3 results "show momentum" for Coroon and that the "gap has narrowed significantly" in the last month. That is true, if you are looking at the only slightly dependable Rasmusson results from last month, in which Herbert had a 30 percent lead. But if you look at the infinitely more reliable (when compared to Rasmusson) DJ & Assoc. poll done for KSL-Deseret News Sept. 7-13, the numbers have not changed much in two weeks. That's notable, since in that time span Corroon went negative with his "Governor For $ale" accusations and a $13 million payment to the firm that lost the Utah Co. I-15 bid was revealed. Both are the most serious blows that Herbert has had to deal with in the campaign.
Herbert's campaign, meanwhile, announced the DJ & Assoc. numbers by saying Herbert is "maintaining large double-digit lead." That's true... again, sort of. A 20-percent lead is large, and he is maintaining it. But if I'm in Herbert's camp, I do see the FM3 numbers showing a 15 percent lead and get nervous. Corroon is not backing down, and if those numbers edge into the single digits, Corroon actually does develop momentum. And as I've said, once the race starts to appear close—which anything in the single digits would do—crazy things can happen.