Utah on track to give Romney his biggest victory
Washington • Utah is an easy win for Mitt Romney on Tuesday and the state is also on track to hand him his largest margin of victory of any state in the union.
A new poll by The Salt Lake Tribune shows Romney likely to pick up some 70 percent of Utahns' votes while President Barack Obama is expected to carry only 25 percent, one of the lowest figures for a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton came in third place in the state two decades ago.
Utah is such a lock for Romney that the only question on Election Day is what size landslide will he pull off in the state. So far, though, it appears it might not be a record.
Despite Romney sharing the Mormon faith with a majority of Utahns and his residual popularity from leading the 2002 Winter Olympics, it may be tough for him to top President Ronald Reagan's 74.5 percent victory in 1984.
That said, there's no more pro-Romney state than Utah.
"Utah knows Mitt Romney better than anybody," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who was in Ohio on Friday traveling with the Romney campaign. "They've seen him throughout his life. It's not often you have a presidential candidate who has lived, worked, gone to school and has kids living in the state of Utah."
The poll even shows that about 9 percent of Utah voters aligned with the Democratic Party are planning to vote for Romney. That's not unexpected in a state where Romney is the most popular politician.
"I'm not surprised at all," said Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis. "He's a hometown boy."
Dabakis said he sees this election as a watershed moment for Mormons to vote for Romney just as it was for black voters to help elect Obama. Dabakis also said he understands the crossover vote that may happen among Mormon Democrats.
"People know Mitt Romney; he spent time here," Dabakis says. "But he never governed here. Where he did govern [Massachusetts], he is losing by double digits."
Obama is ahead by 18 percentage points or more in Romney's home state.
Romney does well in states with higher Mormon populations, including neighboring Idaho and Wyoming. Other rural states such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alaska, Alabama and Kansas also poll well for Romney, according a New York Times roundup of state-by-state polls.
No other state, though, comes close to the 45-point-or-so thumping Romney could deliver in the Beehive State.
If Romney's victory in Utah is close to the Tribune poll, he'll still fall short of the landslide residents gave then-Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1896, the first year Utah was officially a state. Bryan swept up nearly 83 percent of the Utah vote over the eventual winner, Republican William McKinley.
The Tribune poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, meaning Romney could ultimately end up with more than 75 percent to top Reagan's haul.
"Hopefully, Mitt can top even the Gipper," said Chaffetz.
Presidential landslides in Utah
1896 • William Jennings Bryan, Democrat, 83 percent (lost the election to William McKinley)
1984 • President Ronald Reagan, Republican, 74.5 percent (defeated Walter Mondale)
1980 • Reagan, 73 percent (defeated President Jimmy Carter)
2004 • President George W. Bush, Republican, 71.5 percent (defeated John Kerry)
1936 • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democrat, 70 percent (defeated Alf Landon)
1972 • President Richard Nixon, Republican, 68 percent (defeated George McGovern)
2000 • George W. Bush, Republican, 66.8 percent (defeated Al Gore)
1988 • George H.W. Bush, Republican, 66.2 percent (defeated Michael Dukakis)
1956 • President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican, 65 percent (defeated Adlai E. Stevenson)
1904 • President Theodore Roosevelt, Republican, 65 percent (defeated Alton Parker)
1976 • President Gerald Ford, Republican, 63 percent (lost to Jimmy Carter)
1940 • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 62 percent (defeated Wendell Wilkie)
1916 • President Woodrow Wilson, 61 percent (defeated Charles E. Hughes)
2008 • John McCain, Republican, 62.6 percent (lost to Barack Obama)
1944 • President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 61 percent (defeated Thomas E. Dewey)
Source: Utah Elections Office