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Expert: Utah is getting less red, but that’s not the whole story

Apr 22, 2021, 1:42 PM
Utah less red...
In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths As mid-term elections approach, voters may see an increase in police when they go to vote. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)
(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new analysis from the Cook Political Report found Utah — a reliably Republican state in terms of national politics — is becoming slightly less red in its latest rankings. But Jason Perry with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah said those findings only tell a part of the story. 

National study finds Utah becoming less red

Cook’s ratings — outlined in its Partisan Voter Index — measure each congressional district in the country over the last two presidential elections. The report found all four of Utah’s districts fading red and beginning to trend left. 

This could be for several reasons, according to Perry. For example, there was significant Republican turnout for Sen. Mitt Romney in 2012 but many of these same voters voted against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. 

“You look at the last election cycle, and fewer Republicans in the state voted for President Trump than they may have done for another candidate as well,” Perry said. “All those things play into those numbers, which means you look at them as an indication not necessarily just as fact.”

Utah’s most Republican district is UT-1, represented by Rep. Blake Moore, who won the seat in 2020. It scored a R+20, down from its R+27 in 2017. 

UT-3, represented by Rep. John Curtis, follows close behind with a ranking of R+17, down eight points from 2017; UT-2 with Rep. Chris Stewart ranked R+10, down six points in the last four years. 

Utah’s most competitive district, UT-4 represented by freshman Rep. Burgess Owens, is the pinkest of the reds, ranked as a R+6. Owens narrowly defeated Democrat incumbent Ben McAdams to win the seat last fall. 

With population growth and redistricting, Utah may see more changes

It’s not entirely clear what’s causing the shift, but Perry said it could do with Utah’s population growth over the last decade. 

“We’re seeing a lot of people move here from California, for example,” he said. “That’s going to bring, based on their own politics, a certain percentage of Democrats which is going to change [Utah’s ranking].” 

Additionally, these rankings may change again when Utah undergoes redistricting later this year, according to Perry. 

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Expert: Utah is getting less red, but that’s not the whole story