The combination of family roots and a more moderate portrayal has allowed Owens to keep the race tight. A poll by released on Thursday shows Love leading Owens 48 percent to 43 percent (with a five-point margin of error) but struggling to win over independents. Independents back Owens over Love by nearly a two-to-one margin. Additionally, while Owens enjoys 99 percent support within his own party, Love’s support among Republicans isn’t as strong. Seventy-eight percent say they will vote for Love, but 16 percent say they back Owens.

“What kind of Republican is she going to be? Is she going to be a Mike Lee [the tea-party-backed Utah senator], or a Mike Leavitt [the Beehive State’s more moderate former governor]?” Pope asks. “I think voters in Utah are still trying to figure that out”

As most other Utah races are expected to be double-digit blowouts for Republicans, the survey is more in line with what Karpowitz and Pope expect will come on Election Day, which is that she will win by fewer than ten points. But it also hints at the possibility of an Owens upset, à la Matheson. If Owens can solidify unanimous Democratic support, in addition to a plurality of independents, and about a quarter of Republican voters, he can win, they say. “Matheson perfected this recipe,” Karpowitz says.