Utah is one of the most Republican states in the US and hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon B. Johnson’s carried all but six US states in his 1964 landslide victory. Since 1916, the state has voted for only two Democratic candidates: Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 2012, the state broke 72.8% for the Republican Party.
So the Trump should have this one in the bag? Well, actually, perhaps not. Utah is no ordinary state and Trump is no ordinary presidential candidate.
So, some details: Depending on what source you look at, around 60% of Utah’s population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – more commonly known as Mormons. Without getting too deep into aspects of that religion, they do tend to hold fairly conservative views on social issues. That normally means Republicans can do well, but Trump? Perhaps less so.
Another factor that looks to go in Trump’s favour is that white voters make up over 95% of the electorate. Helpful for a candidate whose anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican rhetoric has got him in trouble with ethnic minority voters. But Mormons are famous for their missions to foreign counties and their outward looking and inclusive philosophy. How impressed might they be?
One of Utah’s most famous residents is Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s defeated presidential candidate in 2012. He’s also a Mormon and, presumably, still carries some considerable influence over those 72.8% of voters who backed him last time out. But among the Republican Party’s big beasts, he’s been Trump’s most vocal critic and is rumoured to be considering backing Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Hmmmm.
Despite all this, Trump still seems the overwhelming favourite according to many. Nate Silver, champion forecaster of the previous two elections, is currently giving him an 87% chance. Local media, by contrast, are beginning to wonder if Clinton could do it.