Initial election results show U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Saratoga Springs, about 4 points down to Democratic opponent Ben McAdams on an election night likely to give Democrats control back in the U.S. House of Representatives.
With Utah and Salt Lake counties reporting partial results, Love had just under 48 percent of the vote to McAdams’ 52, but both candidates know the race is far from over.
McAdams started the night with a 10-point lead as Salt Lake County results were released first. As Utah and Juab counties began reporting results, Love began closing the gap over the course of the night.
Love performed well in reliably conservative Utah County, drawing about 74 percent of the Utah County portion of the vote. Utah County makes up only 11 percent of the 4th Congressional District.
McAdams predictably has a strong lead in Salt Lake County, where he is serving a second term as mayor, with a 55 percent of the vote in the county that by far has the most population in the district.
Love spoke to supporters after the last Utah County results were released for the evening, saying she was optimistic about the trajectory the vote was taking.
“I’m really optimistic about it, but I am certainly going to wait before we get all those numbers in before we do anything," Love said. "But I feel fairly confident that this is going to work out."
Voting lines were reportedly long at many Utah County locations, with many Utah County voters waiting until long after polls closed at 8 p.m. to cast their vote.
Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson said Tuesday that Utah County was on track for high turnout of more than 50 percent of registered voters.
Before results were released Tuesday night, Love’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, told reporters the campaign is happy to see high turnout in key areas like Utah County and southwest Salt Lake County, which tend to have higher densities of Republican voters.
Love could technically lose the Salt Lake County vote and win off of the Utah County vote. Love lost Salt Lake County in 2014 to Doug Owens, but made up for it in Utah County to win the race.
McAdams also addressed supporters in Salt Lake City after 10 p.m.
“I just have to say that it is not over, but everything is looking good,” McAdams said.
McAdams said he takes the lead as a sign that voters want a change in Washington, but said he thought it would be awhile before anything is final.
“Now I think it’s going to take a few days before we know the outcome of this election, but if we win, this will be a win for people over politics,” McAdams said.
Throughout the race, Love, a Republican, has polled neck-and-neck with McAdams, who is currently serving his second term as Salt Lake County mayor. Love showed an edge in several polls taken between May and September, leading McAdams by 9 points in a Y2 Analytics poll conducted Sept. 6 through 8.
A University of Utah poll conducted about a month later showed the candidates tied at 46 percent apiece. Two polls since then have given McAdams an edge, including a Dixie Strategies poll conducted Oct. 25 giving McAdams a 6-point lead.
Attacks have peppered the debate between the two candidates as Love has outspent McAdams two to one: $5 million to McAdams’ $2.6 million, the Associated Press reported.
McAdams has billed himself throughout the campaign as a moderate, touting his work with Republicans on projects like Operation Rio Grande in Salt Lake County. Love has focused on her productivity in the House, including five bills passed out of the House this year.
Democrats haven’t had control of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010, and need to pick up 23 seats this election cycle in order to win a majority in U.S. House of Representatives. By the time polls had closed across the country Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported that the Democrats had flipped at least 18 House seats.
Republicans have controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency since the 2016 election when Donald Trump was elected president.
Before Love won the seat in 2014, it was held by Democrat Jim Matheson. After that, Love beat Democrat Doug Owens in her 2016 re-election bid by a double-digit margin.
Utah County released one large batch of election results after 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Salt Lake County released multiple batches until later in the evening. The next round of election results is scheduled to be released Friday, as per the state’s schedule.
The Associated Press reports that Salt Lake County, which makes up the vast majority of the 4th Congressional District voting base, will release additional results on Thursday.
The election results won’t be officially certified until the official canvass two weeks after the election.
Utah’s three other House incumbents, John Curtis, Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart, are expected to win their races.
The Associated Press has already called the U.S. Senate race in favor of Republican Mitt Romney to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.