Monday, March 21, 2016

The Mysterious Case of Trump Losing Utah

That recent map generator from RealClearPolitics I used to project the demographics of the 2016 election - and how it could be a nightmare for the Republicans - isn't perfect.

For starters, it's merely a projection of how the numbers and balloting played out in 2012. The situation this year in 2016 can be vastly different in terms of actual turnout, actual demographic shifts (will the Hispanic voting bloc reject Trump by huge numbers? Likely, but not absolute), and actual voter mood.

There's a noticeable glitch in the generator, for example. And I noticed it the first time I messed with the numbers on the White Non-Hispanic percentage supporting Republicans: as I dropped the 60 percent down to 49 percent to reflect Trump's current polling in that demographic, one state remained solidly Red as many others - Texas in particular - switched Blue.


Thing is, under normal circumstances Utah would be a solidly conservative, utterly Republican state. The majority of the population leans that way, is hugely White in its demographics, and shares many traits of the Conservative/Libertarian mindset with other Western states.

However, Utah is a little different with one thing.


A uniquely Americanized off-shoot of Christianity, Mormons dominate Utah like few other churches dominate at the state level. They're also decidedly social and fiscal Conservative to the point they are reliably Republican. It's probably why the RCP website designed that map generator to automatically keep Utah Red even in the most dire circumstances under a Trump candidacy.

However, the Real World isn't working that way.

Trump is getting his ass (pardon me, Mormons) kicked in Utah. RealClearPolitics' own poll tracking shows Trump in worst-for-him Third Place behind Cruz and Kasich.

And the reports coming out of Utah are that if Trump wins the Republican nomination, most of the state will happily vote Democratic (even for Hillary) in that situation. Hell Heck the Mormons might even sing a jaunty tune on the way to the polls in November to do so. Per the Deseret News site:

If Donald Trump becomes the Republican Party's nominee, Utahns would vote for a Democrat for president in November for the first time in more than 50 years, according to a new Deseret News/KSL poll.
"I believe Donald Trump could lose Utah. If you lose Utah as a Republican, there is no hope," said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a top campaign adviser to the GOP's 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney.
The poll found that may well be true. Utah voters said they would reject Trump, the GOP frontrunner, whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate on the general election ballot.
While Clinton was only slightly ahead of Trump — 38 percent to 36 percent — Sanders, a self-declared Democratic socialist, holds a substantial lead — 48 percent to 37 percent over the billionaire businessman and reality TV star among likely Utah voters...
...Also surprising is the number of Utahns who said they wouldn't vote if Trump were on the ballot. Sixteen percent said they'd skip the election if Trump and Clinton were their ballot choices, while 9 percent said they wouldn't vote if it was a Trump-Sanders matchup...

The article doesn't go into the exact reasons why many in Utah will turn against Trump. There are several I can guess at and be reasonably certain I'm right. One is that Trump's openly vulgar lifestyle offends a good number of Mormons who prefer a more modest, personally comfortable existence. There's a lot of successful Mormon businessmen - hi, Mitt! - so it's not the riches that bother them, it's the showing off.

But I guarantee you the biggest reason Mormons are angry at Trump - and will get angry at Republicans if Trump becomes the nominee - is that Trump's direct campaign against immigration - and the insulting and crass way he's gone on to describe Mexicans and Central/South American immigrants - goes against a lot of work that the Mormons have been doing the last few decades of missionary work in Mexico and other nations.

Say what you will about Mormons' religious beliefs, but they are genuinely sincere about their outreach to Hispanic communities. They have reasons to build up such rapport and have been reasonably successful doing so (in some ways better than their missionary work within the United States itself).

This is where Trump's virulent anti-Immigrant and especially anti-Mexican message gets knocked off the rails. Mormons do not care for Trump's open racism on this issue.

I kind of wondered about Utah ever since last year, ever since I heard Trump's opening salvo in his campaign railing against Mexicans and about "building a huge wall". I knew the Mormons wouldn't react well, and the report from Deseret News proves it.

Utah alone isn't going to be a major speed bump in Trump's juggernaut towards Cleveland. There's not enough delegates to make it meaningful for the primaries. However, Utah is of importance in the General election: having the Electoral and Popular votes switch to Hillary/Bernie and the Democrats would be a huge deal.

That news report also brings up a troubling side effect: voter turnout will affect the down-ticket races like the US Senate race for incumbent Mike Lee. If enough voters refuse to show in November - or else show up to vote Democrat across the board out of spite - that would be a major blow to the Republicans' ability to retain control of the Senate (and would get rid of one of the more extremist Senators).

So do pay attention to how Trump does in Utah. And Real Clear Politics may want to revise their map calculator to reflect the mood in Utah (what's the XML code for "pissed"?)

1 comment:

Infidel753 said...

Another factor is that Mormons tend to be sensitive about anything that smacks of singling out minority religious groups for persecution. This is because of their own history (if you're not familiar with it, read up on the persecutions in Missouri before the great migration to Utah -- it's horrifying). Trump's talk of barring Muslims and making them carry special ID has struck a very sour note among many Mormons.

As one illustration of this, back when almost all Republican Governors were declaring that Syrian refugees would be unwelcome in their states, only one declared them welcome -- the Governor of Utah, who is himself a Mormon.

It parallels the way Trump's threatened moves against Muslims brought immediate condemnation from Jewish organizations. It's not that they have any great love of Muslims, but they know from their own history where that kind of thing can lead, and they know that a leader who targets one religious minority may eventually target others.