Both major Salt Lake newspapers today ran stories on just why it is Utah is, well–so republican. The stories, based on a speech by political pollster Dan Jones, noted several possible reasons why Utah is likely the reddest of the blood red republican states. From the Deseret News:
• The inability of the state’s Democrats and independents “to relate with a Democrat at the national level.” The party’s nominee for president in 1992, Bill Clinton, racked up the lowest vote in Utah. “That could be the same with Hillary” Clinton should she be nominated, he said.
• Democrats have no clear policy on immigration.
• The inability to pass a minimum wage boost, which means no increase in pay “for the little guy.” Democrats should have been able to muster the votes in Congress for an increase, he said, although they may have had to do some compromising with Republicans about other issues in order to swing some GOP votes their way.
• Democrats are labeled as pro-choice and in favor of same-sex marriage, which goes against the grain of many Utahns.
• Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “feel that Democrat policies are counter to church positions.”
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said, would like to see a stronger two-party system in Utah. Church leaders, including President Gordon B. Hinckley, have repeatedly said the religion is politically neutral.
Historically, though, LDS presidents did, at times, endorse candidates for the nation’s highest office. But Mormons don’t necessarily vote in step with such admonitions. In 1936, LDS president Heber J. Grant endorsed Republican Alfred Landon, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt carried Utah and won a second term.
“You have absolutely got to realize there are some fables [about Utah politics]. You don’t have to be LDS to win in Utah,” said Jones, co-owner of Dan Jones & Associates. “You’ve got two chances: slim and none. But you’ve got a chance.”
Jones said that many Utahns did fall away from the Democratic Party after it became associated with abortion rights, gay rights and other social issues that might pose conflicts for those of the LDS faith. Primarily, though, he said the blame lies with the Democratic Party itself.
Personally, I think the fiction that the democratic party and/or its political positions are somehow incompatible with the Church is probably the strongest reason–but maybe it really is that there is no clear exit strategy from Iraq–though I doubt it!