How did McAdams win? First, he kept his base and won big among independents.
This analysis was performed by Carlos Madrid, a student in the class that organized the Utah Colleges Exit Poll. The writing is mostly his. Inquiries about this research should come to Kelly D. Patterson
Ben McAdam’s victory in the Salt County Mayor’s race illustrates how a Democratic candidate can piece together a winning coalition. Contrary to pre-election polls that showed him tied with Republican Mark Crockett, McAdams won the election by a comfortable ten-point margin.
How did McAdams win? First, he kept his base and won big among independents. He received 97% of the vote from those who identify as “strong Democrats” and 95% of the “Not So Strong Democrats.” He received 66% of the Pure Independents.
Second, he attracted support from Republicans. This was the key to his larger than expected victory. He received 38% of the “Independent leaning Republicans” and 11% of the “strong Republicans,” who generally are the most loyal Republicans,.
Third, he created a coalition that combined voters from different faiths. On Election Day, 50% of Salt Lake County voters classified themselves as LDS. And while the proportion of LDS voters in Salt Lake County is about 16 percentage points less than the state as a whole, successful candidates in the county must still attract at least a share of this group. McAdams received 39% of the LDS vote in Salt Lake County and received 73% from those from other faiths. He also attracted the support of 60% of those who say they have no religious affiliation.
Finally, McAdams, like other Democrats in the state and nation, received overwhelming support from Latino voters. He garnered 88% percent of the Latino vote.
Democrats have a difficult time in the state of Utah, but there are electoral jurisdictions where they can win. They do this by running up large margins among Democrats and their affiliated groups and by securing a modest but critical share from the Republican party.