On Tuesday, former Saratoga Springs, Utah mayor Mia Love become the first black Republican woman in Congress.
Politico, overdoing its apparent grief at Tuesday's national results, is acting as if Love won in a walkaway. Alex Isenstadt's pity party post-election report on the Democrats' substantial House losses claimed that Love's was a seat "Democrats conceded long before Election Day." The results, and the money she had to spend to win, indicate otherwise.
The Politico paragraph in question reads as follows:
Democrats also lost two deeply conservative seats held by retiring moderate Democrats in Utah and North Carolina, Reps. Jim Matheson and Mike McIntyre, respectively. Matheson had represented his district for 14 years and McIntyre for 18 years. But the seats, which Democrats conceded long before Election Day, are almost certainly in the GOP column to stay.
A win is a win, but contrary to what Isenstadt claims, if Love isn't looking over her shoulder two years from now, it might be a potentially ruinous mistake.
She defeated her Democratic Party opponent, Doug Owens, by a mere 4,225 votes, a margin of just 3.29 percent, while garnering a bare majority (50.04 percent) of the total vote. Given that margin, one wonders if former Congressman Bob Matheson, who defeated Love two years ago by about 800 votes, isn't kicking himself for retiring rather than engaging in a rematch. Turnout this time around was less than 60 percent of that seen in 2012.
Love raised an eye-popping $1.5 million during the third quarter. Owens raised only one-fifth of that, but 300 grand in the right hands is probably quite enough to get a candidate's message out in the relatvely compact 4th Congressional District. If Democrats "conceded" the seat, it may only have occurred in the final weeks before Election Day when they saw a need to try to defend certain incumbents elsewhere in the nation who were in unexpected trouble.
From here, it looks like Mia Love needed every dollar she raised (and spent) to achieve her win. Two years from now, with the notoriety having worn off, the nation's presidency at stake, and higher voter turnout, victory may prove even more difficult.
Unlike Politico, the Christian Science Monitor correctly noted that Love achieved "a narrow victory." Area residents may have other insights as to why this year's race was so close. But the fact is, the Love-Owens race was close, and her tenure in Congress is anything but a long-term lock.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.