OK, Obama won the Utah Democratic primary (quite handily) and has other things to worry about for the next six months than how Utah will vote in the fall (such as, winning the nomination in the first place). But it strikes me that in an Obama/not-Hillary vs. McCain/maybe-Huckabee matchup, Obama could probably flip Utah (and possibly Idaho) from the red column to the blue — and gain support in heavily LDS areas of California and Arizona — with a simple statement along these lines [note: this is my suggested language, not anything that Obama has actually said]:
Republicans seek to divide, seek to exclude, seek to reject those who do not meet some obscure or arbitrary standard. We saw this during the Republican primaries, when an entire church — a uniquely American religion, one whose members are widely admired for their citizenship, their upright lives and their service to others — was repeatedly criticized as being not Christian, in fact as being of the devil. What’s more, this was done those who set themselves up as judges of all things Christian, by supporters of the Republican candidate for Vice-President, Mike Huckabee. Well, to our Mormon sisters and brothers, you who are our Christian sisters and brothers, we say: come home. Come back to the Democratic Party, which you supported through so much of the 20th Century. We have no questions of your Christian faith; indeed, your global humanitarian service, local community involvement, and commitment to religious pluralism are exactly what we want and need, what we as Democrats stand for. It is we, the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, who say as your founder Joseph Smith said: ‘We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men and women the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.’ We seek to include, not exclude, to accept, not turn away. We are not afraid of your successes as a church; we welcome them and want to learn from them. To paraphrase the late Martin Luther King: we judge you not by the particulars of your faith but by the content of your character. Like many of us, you have known persecution and prejudice, and you cherish freedom and civil rights. And like many of us, you seek to build a better world. As our Christian brothers and sister, come join the rest of us — in all our variety of beliefs, faiths and convictions — in building that better world. Come home.
And with that one, short speech, Obama could well turn vast numbers of US-based Latter-day Saints into supporters, particularly given these factors. They may not change party registration (though I suspect quite a few would, particularly if Obama continued his outreach to Latter-day Saints after election), but I think they would vote heavily for Obama over McCain (and particularly McCain/Huckabee) in the fall.
Of course, if the GOP ticket is McCain/Romney, it wouldn’t matter what Obama said; Latter-day Saints would vote Republican in a big way. ..bruce..