Thursday, July 31, 2014

Utah is a red state with a purplish hue

Well, here I was getting ready to write a bombshell article about how Utahn politics were more moderate than you think (I was playing a hunch, honestly), but it turns out that the guys over at Five Thirty Eight already did a much better report on the topic in 2012.

Here's the report. It's a pretty quick read, and will give you a much more accurate picture of Utahn politics than Facebook memes. The report points out that while Utahns tend to draw a hard line on being opposed to same-sex marriage (but this has changed; see below) and abortion (this has not changed), they tend to have much more moderate stances on immigration. Utah was the first state to initiate a guest worker program, and is one of three states where illegal immigrants can legally drive cars. It also points out that Jon Huntsman, a Republican, was re-elected to the Utahn governorship on a campaign to invest in renewable energy sources and protect the environment, which is typically thought of as a flagship of liberal ideology.

By Ikiwaner (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


So is Utah a conservative Republican state? Sure, but it's more nuanced than that. Check out the report.

Noteably, the report was written in 2012, and due to an interesting twist of fate, Utah became the 18th state where same-sex marriage was legalized on December 20, 2013. Upon reading the significantly complicated story of the legalization, one might conclude that this was the case of the judiciary overruling public opinion, and that conclusion would be incorrect. That link is to a statewide poll taken by the Salt Lake Tribune that shows that Utahns are just about evenly split on the question of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Speaking as someone who has lived here for most of my life, let me tell you that none of this information surprises me. In my neighborhood, I grew up around a wide variety of political opinions, and the milieu of differing worldviews only increased when I went to BYU. I guess it's a little comforting to see the statistics validate my experience.

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