The tide seems to be turning towards the Democratic Party in the historically Republican-leaning state of Utah, based on the strong showing in the 2008 presidential election.
According to the Web site Utah.Gov Utahns voted 67 to 26 percent in favor of the Republican party in 2000 and 71 to 26 percent in 2004. Four years later, while still keeping a dominant lead, the voting for the Republican candidate was narrowed to a lead over the Democratic candidate by a margin of only 63 to 34 percent.
In Salt Lake County where the Bush/Cheney ticket defeated the Gore/Lieberman ticket by 64,000 votes in 2000, the McCain/Palin ticket narrowly beat Obama/Biden by 2,000 votes in this years’ election. There are many possible reasons for the huge number change. Some, including students, think this could be the result of a poor economy led by a Republican president, among other reasons.
In Utah County, Democratic leaders are optimistic. Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Davis said, “There’s a lot of interest now.” Though Democrats lost all of the major races in Utah County this year Davis is quick to point out, “The fact that we were close is a promising sign for us.”
Davis admits that the election didn’t affect Utah students the same way it did students nationally because Utah is traditionally a Republican-dominated state.
UVU student and first time voter Jennie Nicholls, said of the Democrats, “They’re kind of the underdog so they need all of the help they can get, especially here in Utah County.” Nicholls said she didn’t vote straight Democrat and was hesitant to officially declare herself as one.
Morgan Huff, a lifelong Utahn and UVU sophomore, said he voted “strictly on the issues” important to him and found that Sen. McCain more closely represented his views. When asked if he thought there would come a time when people in Utah would vote as a state for a Democrat to be president he said “I could see that happening as long as they were voting for the individual and not the party.”