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by inoljt

How 2012 Helps Prospects for Reforming the Electoral College

4:07 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

The electoral college is one of the lingering undemocratic parts of American politics. Unlike almost every other country in the world, America elects its presidents not via the popular vote but rather via a strange system of “electoral votes” distributed by states. The good news is that this system generally reflects the popular will. The bad news is that it occasionally fails, as last happened in 2000.

Since then there has been a push to reform the electoral college so that all states cast their electoral votes for the winners of the popular vote. Currently half the states needed to implement the reform have signed on.

The reform is mostly pushed by Democrats. This is because in 2000 the popular vote winner but electoral college loser was the Democratic candidate. As long electoral college reform was only pushed by Democrats, it was likely to fail. It is almost impossible to get enough states to sign on with complete Republican opposition.

In 2012, however, something quite interesting happened. The electoral college helped Obama quite a bit. For the final months of the campaign Obama was often behind in the national polls but still leading in the state Ohio. It was seen as a very conceivable possibility that Obama would lose the popular vote but win the electoral college and remain president because of Ohio. Even after the first presidential debate, Romney led in the popular vote but never in the electoral college.

It should be noted that these polls were wrong; they underestimated Obama nationally and put Ohio as more Democratic than a lot of states (Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Virginia) which ended up more favorable to Obama. But the perception, based on these flawed polls, was what mattered.

So a lot of hard-core Republicans got to see the electoral college really hurting them during the most important campaign of all.

Moreover, the electoral college actually has leaned Democratic for three elections in a row. In 2004 John Kerry was 118,601 votes away in Ohio from becoming president while losing the popular vote. In 2008 John McCain would have had to win the popular vote by 1.7% to win Colorado and become president. In 2012 the votes are still being counted, but it’s very certain that Obama could have lost the popular vote and still remained president.

This is good news for electoral college reform. Hopefully Republicans will not forget how polls showed them leading the popular vote but still behind in the electoral college during October 2012. Republicans now are aware that the electoral college hurts them. It would be in their self-interest to shift to a popular vote.

There are several blue or purple states in which the state Republican Party is fairly strong and has prevented electoral college reform. The hope is that in a few of these states some Republicans will now support a popular vote. It is also possible that Republicans by themselves will enact popular vote bills on their own initiative. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, for instance, has publicly made supportive statements on a popular vote. Of course this is pure self-interest, since she (like many Republicans) recognizes that the electoral college now hurts Republicans.

But a popularly elected president looks closer than ever. As long as it was only a Democratic initiative, it didn’t look like the popular vote would be enacted. Now, hopefully, some Republicans will also see that the popular vote is both something that helps a Republican presidential candidate and (more importantly for American but probably not Republicans) the right thing to do.

by inoljt

The Demographics of America’s Governors: Religion

1:07 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors by age, as of August 2012. All in all, this series on the demographics of America’s governors examines:

  • Religion

Outside of place of birth, this was the hardest category to get information on. Unlike race and gender, which are pretty obvious, your face doesn’t indicate which religion you are.

There are a lot of varying Protestant denominations in the United States, but there’s not much meaningful difference between them. There’s a much greater difference between Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons. I put all governors belonging to a Protestant denomination as merely Protestant, which simplifies things by a lot.

Sometimes governors, especially Republicans, talk about how much religion has guided them in the lives while never actually revealing their denomination. It takes a bit of searching to confirm that they’re actually Protestant. John Kasich and Rick Scott are good examples of this.

Other times it’s extremely unclear what religious affiliation a governor actually holds. Wikipedia indicates John Kitzhaber of Oregon as being “Other Christian,” but other sources indicate him as Jewish. I put him as Jewish (feel free to inform me if I’m wrong). Information is also very scarce on Peter Shumlin of Vermont, who apparently is Agnostic or Atheist.

In any case, my research led to the following map. The map below indicates the religion of each governor of the United States as of August 2012:

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America, unsurprisingly, is a country dominated by Protestants and Catholics. Combined the two account for the governors of 46 out of 50 states. 28 states are governed by Protestants, while 18 states are governed by Catholics.

Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

An Interesting Way in Which Barack Obama’s Race Helps Him

7:57 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be an election highly focused on economics and class. It seems that one of the main themes of the election will be class, or the gap between the rich and the poor. At this point, it’s pretty likely that the main Democratic attack on Mitt Romney will be an attack based on class. Mitt Romney will be portrayed as rich and out-of-touch, a Wall Street banker.

Now what does this have to do with the title of this post?

Well, obviously this critique of Mitt Romney wouldn’t work if his opponent was also a billionaire businessman. The attack against Mitt Romney relies on the fact that Barack Obama is not rich, is not out-of-touch, and is not a Wall Street banker.

Except one of these things is false. Barack Obama is rich. His income level squarely puts him in the top one percent.

One can make a good argument, of course, that Obama’s wealth is a very different thing from Romney’s wealth. Obama is wealthy mainly due to the success of his books. He has never been and will never be rich in the way Mitt Romney is. Before gaining political success, Obama was pretty heavily indebted. Not to mention that he deliberately chose to be a community organizer after college, not the most high-income of jobs.

But more importantly than all these facts, there is the fact that Barack Obama just doesn’t look very rich. The typical American does not think of Obama as belonging to the top one percent when they look at him. Obama just doesn’t exude wealth in the way Mitt Romney’s very presence does.

Why is this? The answer is pretty simple: it’s because Obama’s black.

Despite the occasional successful black entertainer or athlete, the black community is still very strongly associated with poverty. Think about, for instance, the first image that usually comes to mind when people talk about poverty in America (and especially urban poverty).

The result is that Americans almost never associate Barack Obama with being rich, even though today he has become quite wealthy. This is one of those subconscious things which most people don’t even realize is happening in their minds. Nor even do many political experts realize this. Nor did I for the longest time.

But the fact that Obama is African-American, and the fact that very few people associate African-Americans with wealth, will end up making a huge difference in the 2012 presidential election.

inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

by inoljt

The Demographics of America’s Governors: Place of Birth

8:45 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors by place of birth, as of March 2012. All in all, this series on the demographics of America’s governors examines:

  • Place of Birth

The following map indicates the birth place of each of America’s governors. I honestly had no idea what to expect when making this map. On the one hand, the result is quite interesting in several ways. On the other hand, it’s somewhat difficult to interpret what appears in the following map. Is this a result of randomness, or is there a pattern?

Let’s take a look:

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There are actually a lot of states whose current governor was born in said state. 31 states fit this category.

This is an interesting result. America is commonly thought of a very mobile society; there are very few regional differences, with the exception of the South, between one part of America and another. You can’t tell a Pennsylvanian from a Californian, for instance. Yet the majority of American states are still governed by native-born members of those states.

Another element is missing here: foreigners. Not a single American state is governed by a person born outside of the United States. Arnold Schwarzeneggers are very rare.

There seems to be a degree of regional difference. Most obviously, a band of states stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest are governed by individuals born outside said state. It’s hard to draw conclusions about the other parts of the country, however.

The map above does bear some resemblance to the electoral college. States with governors born elsewhere in the United States tend to be states which Barack Obama could possibly win in 2012. There are, of course, plenty of exceptions to this statement (such as Oklahoma and New York).

Finally, there a lot of Pennsylvanians governing states elsewhere. On the other hand, only one New Yorker (Neil Abercrombie) is governing a state outside of New York. Nor does anybody born in heavily populated Florida govern a state. You can make a lot of jokes about this result, although it’s most probably just randomness.

Are there any revealing partisan differences in this demographic? Let’s look at states governed by Democrats:

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Now states governed by Republicans:

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If such differences exist, they escape me.

Perhaps the most relevant conclusion to be drawn from this result is that America is still a pretty introverted place. Chances are pretty good that the your state is governed by somebody born there. And chances are very good that your state is governed by somebody born in the United States.

(Edit: Apparently about six in ten American live in the same state that they were born, which is a lot higher than I thought. Consider that 12.9% of Americans are foreign-born. Anyways, the number of governors born in the same state that they govern happens to match pretty well the number of Americans born in the same state that they live – although not-so-well the number of Americans born in a different country.)

–inoljt

by inoljt

The Demographics of America’s Governors: Age

2:08 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors by age, as of February 2012. All in all, this series on the demographics of America’s governors examines:

  • Age

America’s governors generally have a pretty wide range in age. The youngest governor, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, was less than forty years old when elected. The oldest, Jerry Brown of California, was actually governor of California decades before many Americans were born.

Here’s a more detailed look:

This is a truly random map. There’s essentially no relationship that one can see between the age of a state’s governor and, well, anything. States with young governors, like Nevada or South Carolina, are located right next to states with old governors, such as California or Georgia.

Let’s try to add political party to this analysis. First we’ll take a look at the age of Democratic governors:

Naturally the Democratic Party governs fewer states after its losses in the 2010 midterm election. Interestingly, it seems that Democrats still hold a lot of the “Clinton belt” – the Appalachian region which went strongly for Bill Clinton and has since then turned decisively Republican on a presidential level.

Now let’s look at the Republicans:

It does seem that Republican governors are, in general, a younger bunch. There are several possible reasons behind this. Firstly, it should be expected for Republican governors to be younger given that they won most of the most recent midterm elections. Secondly, it could be just mere chance: given enough elections, eventually you’ll get one in which one party’s governors are younger than the other party’s. Finally, there’s the possibility that something about the Republican Party and American politics tends to make Republican governors younger.

All in all, there’s not that much to see here. Unlike other demographic dividers, age does not arouse great passions. This is because everybody has the opportunity to reach the age most American governors tend to be. I didn’t expect to find anything extremely interesting when writing this post, and I didn’t find anything. Which is not a big problem; not everything provides a piercing insight into the current state of politics.

–inoljt

by inoljt

Why Barack Obama Will Lose the 2012 Presidential Debates

11:14 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The presidential debates are a storied tradition in America’s presidential elections. They tend to be more serious than the often superficial primary debates (which have escalated to a new low in this year’s Republican primary). The last presidential election featured Barack Obama debating John McCain. There were none of the game-changing fireworks that occurred in previous debates, and indeed the vice presidential debate caught more interest. Nevertheless, the general consensus was that Obama won. He did this not by landing a devastating blow on McCain, but merely by appearing more presidential and dignified.

Obama will probably not win the 2012 presidential debates. There are several reasons why this will happen. These reasons are neither complex nor convoluted; they’re just restating some common-sense principles.

Reason #1: The Republican candidates have much more practice debating than Obama does. Obama’s last debate occurred more than three years ago, during the fall of 2008. On the other hand, the Republican candidates have been debating for months now, often with one debate every week. That’s a lot of practice for the fall 2012 debates, and they’ve gotten pretty good. Much has been made about how Mitt Romney is now quite a skilled debater after the grueling schedule he’s just gone through. Newt Gingrich is no slouch either; his campaign revival is almost singlehandedly due to strong debate performances.

Reason #2: Obama is not a great debater. This is something that tends to be forgotten, but Obama struggled repeatedly in his debates against Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s strong performances were responsible for her summer lead in 2008 against Obama, and they helped her win Ohio and Texas when her campaign desperately needed to. Many undecided voters watched Clinton and Obama debate before crucial primaries; Obama’s consistent weaker performances probably cost him a lot of strength with those voters.

All this is not to say that Obama will actually lose the presidential election itself. John Kerry, after all, did much better than George W. Bush in 2004; he still lost. Walter Mondale’s strong debate performances against Ronald Reagan gave him absolutely no help. Debate winners do not necessarily become presidents.

But mark this prediction for the calendar: Obama will lose the 2012 presidential debates.

–inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

by inoljt

Impressions of Elizabeth Warren

6:46 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

In 2012, Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts will face a challenge from Massachusetts resident and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Warren is somebody who has sparked liberal passion unseen since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. However, people who arouse liberal passions do not always translate well to the wider electorate.

Out of curiosity, I decided to watch a few videos Elizabeth Warren and see for myself how good a politician she is.

The first thing that one notices is how overwhelmingly passionate Warren is about regulating the financial industry. Passion like that cannot be faked. Unlike people such as Mitt Romney, it’s very clear that Warren truly and deeply believes in what she says. You see it in the emotion with which Warren talks about Wall Street. This is not actually that surprising. After all, Warren wants to be a senator not as an end to advance her political career, but as a means to fight Wall Street. Fortunately for Warren, most Americans share her passion.

The main problem with this is that Warren sometimes appears quite angry in the videos, especially those before her campaign began. Anger is something that Americans do not like politicians to show, especially those who happen to be female. This might turn-off a few voters. Warren herself, on the other hand, is probably aware of this potential problem.

Another thing of note is that Warren lacks the feel that comes with most politicians. There’s something very much politician-unlike that comes when she talks. It’s pretty clear that she’s not been a politician all her life. This was actually pretty refreshing for me, and it’s an advantage Warren will have. Ironically, the fact that Warren doesn’t sound like a  politician actually makes her a better politician.

In addition, Warren’s had to work for what she has. Unlike people such as George W. Bush or Mitt Romney, Warren was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. For me, at least, that’s a plus.

Finally, Warren has a way of skillfully articulating a point. In her most famous video Warren talks about how the roads a government builds and the safety it provides are necessary for a factory-owner to succeed. This is a point that liberals often make, but Warren puts it in a really understandable way. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen a liberal make this argument with the clarity that Warren does in the video.

All in all, Warren does seem to have some pretty decent political skills. At the very least, she’ll give Republican Scott Brown a much more powerful challenge than any of the other Democratic politicians-for-life in Massachusetts.

–inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

by inoljt

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 2

12:26 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the second part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia: the 1980 Senate election, in which Republican Mack Mattingly beat scandal-ridden Democrat Herman Talmadge. This was the first time that a Republican Senator was elected in Georgia for more than a century. Even more interestingly, the areas that the Democratic candidate won tend to vote strongly Republican today, and vice versa.

The Black Vote in 1980

The previous post ended by bringing up the role of the black vote:

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

Well, let’s take a look at the 1980 Georgia Senate election:


This map puts the election in more detail than the maps in the previous post. It’s pretty difficult to determine how any group voted knowing only whether a party won or lost a county, but not by how much they lost the county. This map is more useful.

Here we see a Georgia in which Republican strength in the cities just barely overwhelms Democratic rural strength. Again, this runs strongly against the usual pattern today, in which Democratic urban strength is pitted against Republican rural strength. (For instances of the latter, see these elections in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia).

Now let’s take a look at the black population of Georgia:

Source: The Social Explorer

This is a map of the black population in each county of Georgia, according to the 1980 Census. It’s taken from The Social Explorer.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a link. The rural black areas vote strongly Democratic, and so do the rural white areas. Urban black Atlanta votes strongly Republican, and so do the urban non-black parts of Atlanta.

This is actually somewhat disappointing; I expected a stronger correlation before making these maps.

The Black Vote in 2008

Here, for instance, is a map in which the black vote certainly does have a relationship with how well one party does:

This was the 2008 presidential election. Note how the map is almost the opposite of the 1980 Senate election.

Even though the 1980 Census data is more than a generation out-of-date, there’s still a very strong link between how black a county was in 1980 and the percent of the vote the Democratic candidate won in 2008. The discrepancies can largely be explained by demographic changes (for instance, Clayton County – the county directly below the dot indicating Atlanta – voted strongly for Obama not because white people there really really liked him, but because it has become 65% black today).

Conclusions

There are several possibilities why we don’t see any such correlation in the 1980 Senate election. Perhaps black turn-out was still very far below white turn-out in 1980 (only 15 years after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act). If this is true, then the black vote would have been overwhelmed by higher turn-out amongst whites.

It’s also possible that running a regression analysis could provide more insight into the black vote. The results, however, would probably differ greatly one whether one adjusts for the amount of people living in each county. And they might not be statistically significant.

All in all, it is possible to tell how blacks voted in 1980; one just needs more detailed data. You need to look at precinct data (data detailed enough to show how groups of several hundred people voted) and then look at how the precincts with the highest black percentages voted. This, unfortunately, is data that is extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to gather.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

Until we have more information, the answer is: we don’t know.

–inoljt

by inoljt

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 1

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the first part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia. The second part can be found here.

Georgia is a red state. It votes reliably Republican; the Republican Party controls every level of Georgia’s state government. It would be miraculous for Barack Obama to win the state in 2012.

However, Georgia used to be a very blue state. It belonged to the Solid South, a Democratic stronghold for generations. As early as 1948, however, the first signs of change came. Backlash against the Civil Rights movement and the growth of Republican suburbia eventually destroyed the Democratic Party in Georgia.

The 1980 Georgia Senate Election

I have come across a very interesting election which illustrates this shift. To the best of my knowledge there is not any election similar to what happened in the 1980 Georgia Senate election:

This election posed incumbent Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge against Republican challenger Mack Mattingly. At this time Georgia was definitely beginning to shift Republican, like its fellow southern states. At the same time, however, Democrats continued to hold great strength in the rural areas. Local Democrats consistently outperformed their presidential candidates (indeed, it would take until the late 1990s for Republicans to begin consistently winning statewide elections).

Democratic Senator Talmadge is a very interesting figure. He was one of the last of the old-style Southern Democrats. This meant that he was an economic liberal, dedicated to improving the lot of the white rural Georgian farmer through government programs. It also meant that he was strongly conservative in most other things, including race. Like all old-style Southern Democrats, Senator Talmadge was a strong proponent of segregation.

Talmadge would probably have won in normal circumstances (Georgia was still pretty Democratic at a local level in 1980). However, he had the misfortune to be caught up in a finance scandal.  This, along with a tough primary challenge and Georgia’s slowly reddening trend, led to his historic loss. Republican Mack Mattingly thus became the second Republican Senator in Georgia, ever. The previous Republican Senator had held office more than a century before Mattingly.

Let’s compare Mattingly’s coalition with Senator John McCain’s coalition in the 2008 presidential election:

Republicans in 2008

McCain won Georgia, unsurprisingly. His coalition is a very typical Republican coalition today; he won and lost the same areas that Republicans usually win and lose today.

Notice the vast difference between McCain’s coalition of 2008 and Mattingly’s coalition of 1980. Republicans nowadays in Georgia generally win based on a coalition of rural whites and suburban whites living north of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta itself, heavily minority, is a Democratic stronghold. But suburban Republican strength north of Atlanta severely diminishes Democratic margins coming out of the city. In good elections, Republicans can even win the metropolitan area entirely. In closer elections, such as 2008, they can rely on the ever-more Republican rural white vote to do the rest of the job.

It should be noted that suburban Atlanta is well on its way to becoming minority-majority. Nevertheless, Republicans are at the moment still able to get good margins out of it.

Republicans in 1980

In 1980, the Republican coalition was almost the exact opposite of this. Republican Senator Mattingly’s greatest strength came out of the Atlanta metropolis. He actually won the heavily-minority counties in Atlanta itself, something unheard of for any Republican today. On the other hand, Mattingly performed extremely poorly with rural whites, who strongly preferred his Democratic opponent. Today it would be unheard of for any Republican to do as poorly as Mattingly did in rural Georgia.

Another fascinating difference: compare how the cities voted in the two elections. In 2008 Barack Obama won every single county home to a city listed in the map above. In 1980, Democrat Herman Talmadge lost all of these places except for Macon. It wasn’t just Atlanta that voted Republican in that election; so did all the smaller cities outside of it. Today all of these places vote Democratic.

There are two constants between these two elections. In both 1980 and 2008, Republicans were able to win Atlanta’s northern suburbs and rural northern Georgia. In 1980 Republicans did better in the suburbs; in 2008 they did better in rural northern Georgia. Both times these two areas proved key for the Republican victory.

The Black Vote

There is one final concern which has not been touched upon: the role of Georgia’s black population in all this. African-Americans compose almost one-third of Georgia’s population, and their presence was a key influence (or perhaps “the” key influence) in Georgia’s Republican shift.

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

This is in fact the reason that I decided to write this analysis in the first place, and the next post will examine this question.

–inoljt

by inoljt

Analyzing the 2010 Utah Senate and Gubernatorial Elections

7:53 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze some interesting tidbits of the 2010 Utah Senate and Gubernatorial elections. Specifically it will look at some hints of increasing Democratic strength in this blood-red state.

Salt Lake County, 2004

Utah is commonly considered as one of the most conservative states in America, and for good reason; Democrats are essentially nonexistent in the state. Some Southern states will occasionally vote (or used to occasionally vote) for a conservative Democrat. Not Utah; its Republicans are rock-hard Republicans.

Here is how Utah looked like in the 2004 presidential election:

President George W. Bush dominated the state; he got almost three times as many votes as Senator John Kerry did. Bush did quite well in the mountainous west of the United States; normally Utah is still very Republican, but not quite this much.

Take a look at Salt Lake County, the most populous part of the state. Almost four in ten voters in 2004 lived in Salt Lake County.

Bush got a pretty powerful number of votes from the area, taking 59.4% of the vote. The margin wasn’t quite as good as elsewhere in the state (where he won more than 71.4% of the vote); the rest of Utah was much more conservative than Salt Lake County in 2004. Nevertheless, Bush had no reason to complain; getting three-fifths of the vote in a major metropolitan area is something Republicans rarely do.

Salt Lake County, 2008

In 2008 Senator Barack Obama did much better than Senator John Kerry in 2004. Naturally he also did better in Utah. Indeed, Utah moved quite a bit more to the left in 2008 than the rest of the nation.

Nevertheless, Republican Senator John McCain still won a very comfortable victory in this very conservative state:

The most noticeable difference here is what happened to Salt Lake County; the county turned from a Republican fortress into Obama territory. Republicans fell from 59.4% of the vote to 48.1% of the vote. Salt Lake County’s enormous shift Democratic accounted for much of Obama’s improvement in Utah.

Salt Lake County, 2010

It’s the 2010 midterm elections where things get really interesting. 2010 was the best Republican year in a generation; Republicans won up and down the map. Democratic areas turned Republican; Republican areas turned blood-red.

In a situation such as this, one would expect Salt Lake County to revert back to its strongly Republican voting patterns in 2004 (or vote even more Republican, given that 2010 was a more Republican year than 2004).

In fact, this is very much what didn’t happen. Let’s take a look at the two most important statewide Utah elections in 2010. Here is the 2010 Utah gubernatorial election:

Republican candidate Gary Herbert took a bare majority – 51.0% of the vote – of Salt Lake County.

Republicans did even worse in the statewide senate election:

Republican candidate Mike Lee got 49.0% of the vote in the county; he failed to win a majority of voters.

All in all, it seems that things are moving the Democrat’s way in the most populous county of Utah.

There is also something else very interesting about Utah: the state moved very little to the right in 2010, despite the huge Republican wave. Republican candidates didn’t win more than 70% of the vote in 2010, unlike Bush in 2004. Their performance was very similar to that of McCain’s. The Senate race is particularly remarkable; Senator Mike Lee only improved 0.8% upon McCain’s performance, despite a double-digit shift in the national vote towards the Republican Party.

Conclusions

It’s always hard-to-say that a particular area is trending one way or another. Salt Lake County moved strongly leftwards in 2008, and resisted the 2010 Republican wave. One the other hand, Republicans have lost Salt Lake County in the past (although very rarely while winning more than 60% of the vote). One could argue that this phenomenon is not anything really new, although I am less than convinced.

The evidence is less strong that Utah as a whole is shifting Democratic. While the state as a whole also resisted the 2010 Republican wave, one could argue that Bush overperformed. Republicans have often in the past won Utah with around 60-65% of the vote; on the other hand, they have relatively rarely taken more than 70% of the vote in the state. The evidence is more mixed that Utah as a whole is trending Democratic, compared to the evidence that Salt Lake County is trending Democratic.

What does this all mean?

Probably very little. Even if Democrats regularly won Salt Lake County by double-digits, Utah would still be a solidly Republican state. Democrats would still lose statewide elections. They might regularly be guaranteed a Democratic congressman from Utah coming from Salt Lake City, but on the other hand Republicans could still fairly easily gerrymander the state so that they controlled all the seats. And Democrats already improbably hold a seat in Utah, so in real life they would actually gain no seats in Utah.

All in all, a Utah in which Republicans went from winning by 30 points to winning by 15 points would still be pretty impossible for Democrats do win.

But it does say something about the state of American politics when Republicans are having trouble winning an urban city in the most conservative part of America.

–inoljt