|Poll||Date||Sample||Matheson (D)||Philpot (R)||Spread|
|Final Results||--||--||50.5||46.1||Matheson +4.4|
|Deseret News||10/25 - 10/28||456 LV||51||39||Matheson +12|
|Mason-Dixon||10/25 - 10/27||400 LV||48||35||Matheson +13|
|Deseret News||10/11 - 10/14||226 LV||57||31||Matheson +26|
|UtahPolicy/Western Wats||9/30 - 10/3||200 RV||46||30||Matheson +16|
|2008: Matheson (D) 63%, Bee (R) 35%||2008: McCain (R) 58%, Obama (D) 40%|
|2006: Matheson (D) 59%, Christensen (R) 37%||2004: Bush (R) 66%, Kerry (D) 31%|
|2004: Matheson (D) 55%, Swallow (R) 43%||2000: Bush (R) 63%, Gore (D) 29%|
Like most western states, Utah’s is a heavily urban population, with most of its denizens living in Salt Lake City and its suburbs. The state’s three congressional districts divide up the Democratic-leaning city roughly evenly. The 2nd District – which previously took up most of central city, elected Republican Enid Greene Waldholtz to replace Democrat Karen Shepherd in 1994. Greene imploded under the weight of a scandal involving her husband and was replaced by Republican Merrill Cook. Cook, a munitions manufacturer, seemed to be as unstable as the product he sold, and lost a primary in 2000 to computer tycoon Derek Smith; Smith lost the general election to Democrat Jim Matheson, son of former Governor Scott Matheson.
Matheson has won the heavily Republican district by steadily-increasing margins. He has compiled a moderately conservative voting record in the House, and opposed the president’s health care bill. But a Democrat’s position in Utah is always tenuous; close observers will remember Democratic Representative Bill Orton, who was upset in 1996 to an unheralded opponent after President Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the district. Matheson’s opponent, former state Representative Morgan Philpot, wouldn’t normally be in a position to defeat Matheson, but this year, in this district, anything can happen.