Friday, May 4, 2007

Is There A Chance For Democrats In Utah?

Here's what Campaigns and Elections had to say about Utah in it's 2006 postmortem.

Utah is about as Republican as you get; it has voted for Republican presidential candidates by the highest percentage of any state in the past eight elections. The heavily Mormon state is governed by conservative Christian principles and values; those who want to be elected in Utah must espouse those values. Democrats have a hard time getting anywhere in this state. In the 1992 Presidential election, Ross Perot beat out Bill Clinton by two percentage points.

State Update
In one town in the Beehive State, even dog ownership is politics. In the ski town of Alta, an ordinance limits the number of dogs to 12 percent of the human population, or 42 dogs in this small town, but the mayor can allow special exceptions out of compassion or good cause.

I think they're pretty much dead on here, but the key is this part.
The heavily Mormon state is governed by conservative Christian principles and values; those who want to be elected in Utah must espouse those values.

Now in this state people just assume that the candidate who is most in line with those values will have an R next to their name on the ballot, but that's not necessarily the case and sometimes is just plain untrue. In order for a progressive movement to take hold in this state, Democrats have to show they have moral values, and contrast them with some of the morally laxed actions of Republicans both in Utah and nationally.

Does this mean we elect pro life, anti gay marriage, pro church in schools socially conservative Democrats, probably, but not necessarily. But even if that's the best we can do for now, Democrat majorities nationally would ensure that none of these issues actually came to the legislation table (e.g. an abortion ban would never get to a vote in a Democrat controlled congress), which would further the progressive cause (see Crashing the Gate).

So while this report is, in my opinion, accurate, and bad news, it's not an end game, there are avenues we can take to gain some footing to get Democrats elected locally and state wide in Utah. Or am I just being overly optimistic?


  1. I think you're being overly optimistic. The Democratic Party in Utah, and many of its candidates, just have to play the nice game, even if its trending poorly.

    2006 showed the the Utah GOP has no qualms, whatsoever, about mudslinging, character assassination and just plain lying.

    Democratic candidates, for the most part, just kept on smiling and whistling, and, for the most part, sadly losing.

    Using HONEST FACTS, that may paint your opponent in a negative light, is NOT dirty politics, and Democrats need to sack up and fight back.

    The biggest examples?

    Greg Curtis deserved to lose, and didn't, because Seegmiller was just too damn nice and pulled too many punches.

    Trisha Beck had a bulls**t last minute attack from her Republican opponent that was whole cloth fabrication, slander and extremely dirty. She fought back with a robo-call from Mayor Corroon talking about civility that had no mention of the dirty mailer sent out by the GOP guy.

    The list goes on and on and includes some of the very, very close races that almost got lost this last year.

    Blatant, naked honesty, supported by fact after fact, is the only way for Dems to win in Utah. The Republicans are wrapping Christmas presents with their abhorrent behavior and Democrats just keep sending the gifts back.

    That's the irony of it, though. I watched some kind, honest and, NICE people lose last year, because they are far better in spirit than their GOP opponents. Frustrating.

  2. JM makes some good points. I've long felt that it's not the fault of Utah's Democratic Party and their candidates...the problem is, the typical Utah voter is just plain dumb. Sorry, but it is what it is. To paraphrase dear senile Orrin Hatch, anybody with a brain would've voted for Pete Ashdown or Christian Burridge rather than Hatch or Chris Cannon. The best candidates in the world won't overcome voter stupidity.

  3. Yeah, Burridge was a guy that fought with a lot of heart. That he lost only helps prove your point.

    If Demo donors in Utah would have stood up taller, Burridge had a chance at winning. Without the money, though, it's going to be near impossible to mass message the way a federal candidate needs to.

  4. But I don't think the problem is solely based around money. I saw this breakdown a little while ago comparing the money raised by the last three challengers to Rob Bishop, and it seems more money doesn't get more votes. The 30-35% level that Democrats pull (from this district at least) hasn't changed due to increases or decreases in money spent.

    Like JM said in his first comment, the Dem candidates have to stand up and fight back, even go on the offensive. Granted, that's easier to do if there is more money to be spent, but if the money isn't spent showing voters how you are in line with their values and your opponent isn't, no amount of money will win for a Democrat in Utah.

  5. The biggest problem is the false notion that one cannot be a "good member of the LDS church" and be a Democrat at the same time.

    Go knock on a few doors in rural Utah as a Democratic candidate ... it is unbelievable that people who I go to church with still would not and could not vote for me because they were convinced that I did not share their values.

    One guy even said that I "appeared righteous" but that he had no idea if I would do the right thing because he will *never* trust a Democrat. Never mind that I go to church with this guy every week and his wife even sings in my stake choir (of which I am director).

    Alrighty then. This is the mindset.

  6. more...

    and so when Trisha Becks gets landblasted with dirty negative ads, people are already inclined to believe it, accepting the attack as FACT because "democrats can't be trusted."

    I know Trish Beck and she is one of *the* most upright, religious, responsible, and honest people that I know. To call her anything else is a lie and it is wrong.

    Hindsight is 20/20 but had I been advising Trisha, I would have recommended that she fight back HARD, with a robocall, calling her opponent on the carpet for being dishonest about her record.

    Further, I think it is easier to be an inactive LDS or nonmember Republican than it is to be a temple going LDS Democrat -- because in the eyes of Utah voters, R=rightous and D=devil, no matter how you slice it.

    < end soapbox >