What is the demographic future of the two-party system in Utah?

This analysis was performed by Matthew Frei, a student research fellow at BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (like us on Facebook), in collaboration with CSED faculty. The writing is mostly his. Inquiries about this research should come to Kelly Patterson. 

The nervous handwringing over the condition of the national Republican Party has not quite reached Utah, but it probably will in coming years.

National exit polls showed that Latinos made up 10% of the vote on election day. 71% of those voters supported President Obama.

Utah, for the moment, seems to be bucking that trend. While 13% of Utah residents are of Hispanic or Latino descent (compared to about 17% nationally), Utah Colleges Exit poll results show that only about 5.2% of Utah voters are Latino (It was 4.5% in 2008). While Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in the Utah electorate, they are still dwarfed by the 89% of the state’s electorate that is white.

The voting patterns of Latinos are different from those of whites in Utah as well. 59% of Latinos in the state voted for President Obama this year. In only one of the races featured below did the Latinos give a majority of their vote to a Republican candidate (Jason Chaffetz in the 3rd congressional district).

Voting Patterns for Hispanic/Latino

President

Mitt Romney 37%
Barack Obama 59%

Governor

Gary Herbert 37%
Peter Cooke 58%

Senate

Orrin Hatch 39%
Scott Howell 58%

1st Congressional District

Rob Bishop 41%
Donna McAleer 54%

2nd Congressional District

Chris Stewart 20%
Jay Seegmiller 74%

3rd Congressional District

Jason Chaffetz 53%
Soren Simonsen 45%

4th Congressional District

Mia Love 27%
Jim Matheson 71%

As the Latino population continues to grow nationally and in Utah, Republicans and Democrats at both levels will need to stand up and take notice. Republicans will need to convince Latinos that they care about their issues. Democrats will need to spend more time mobilizing those voters who already seem disposed to support them.

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