I’ve been saying for some time that there’s a real chance that Utah, considered the most Republican of all states, could actually go Democratic in the Presidential election this fall, particularly if Mike Huckabee is on the GOP ticket. As I pointed out in that previous article, Utah through most of the 20th Century (particularly the 1917-1985 period) elected a Democratic governor and at least one Democratic Senator about 75% of the time.
Now, an article in this morning’s Deseret News reports the following in the aftermath of Romney’s departure from the GOP nomination:
Only 30 percent of Utahns polled in a new Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV survey Thursday said they’d vote for the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
And nearly as many, 25 percent, said they would cast their ballot for a Democrat, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Eleven percent said their choice was another Democrat, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The other Republicans still in the race, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, had only minimal support — 3 percent for Paul, a onetime Libertarian candidate for president, and just 2 percent for Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister.
As I noted before, not just the Huckabee campaign but also (to a lesser extent) the McCain campaign has been involved in anti-Mormon smears while campaigning against Romney. Those should halt now that Romney’s out of the race — but the Republican Party should not underestimate how many Mormons are upset by the anti-Mormon prejudice rampant through the Religious Right portion of the GOP, particularly as it has come out during the campaign. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination and continues his outreach efforts to Mormons, and the GOP puts forth a McCain/Huckabee ticket, Utah could seriously be in play this fall. ..bruce..
UPDATE: While it’s merely anecdotal, here’s a post on an LDS blog that captures what a lot of Mormons are feeling. (Be sure to read the comments as well.)
UPDATE: On the other hand, just to keep perspective, the last time that Utah went Democratic in a US Presidential election was 40 years ago, in 1968, when Utah (like pretty much the rest of the country) went for Johnson over Goldwater.
UPDATE: On the third hand, here’s an experience I just had where a friend — a Utah Republican of long standing — informed me out of the blue that he’s seriously thinking of voting for Obama.