Because Utah is heavily Republican, Democrats don’t usually spend a lot of time campaigning here, even in the primaries. This year, however, the Democrats are waging an aggressive campaign: Barack visited the state last summer and Michelle Obama recently campaigned here, while Clinton sent Chelsea to the Beehive State last week. It’s the Republicans who have pulled back from campaigning for the primary, by and large deciding it isn’t worthwhile to take on Romney. His popularity among Mormons, success as the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee Chairman in 2002, and stance on immigration have given him nearly insurmountable leads in the polls.
Delegates: Democrats, 29 (23 in primary and 6 superdelegates); Republicans, 36.
Format: Both parties use a modified open primary; Democrats are proportional, Republicans are winner-takes-all
Recent Polls: The most recent poll in Utah was taken in February and shows Obama leading Clinton 53-29. Romney leads national front-runner McCain by 84-4. Yes, 84-4.
Democratic In-State Fundraising: Obama: $227,500; Clinton: $103,054.
Republican In-State Fundraising: Romney: $4,628,681; McCain: $156,542; Huckabee: $1,000.
Endorsements: Jim Matheson, the lone Democratic congressman, has decided against endorsing a candidate. Hillary won the backing of the Salt Lake Tribune, but still trails Obama in polls. Republican Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. backed McCain, as did Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Romney has the endorsement of powerful senior senator Orrin Hatch and the Salt Lake Tribune. However, while endorsements might be tipping close races elsewhere, they aren’t likely to make much of an impact in such a lopsided contest.
Demographics: The state doesn’t have a large African-American population--a demographic Obama has relied upon in other states. However, he is winning among young people and in rural areas. “My feeling is that it will be a lot like Obama’s win in Iowa,” says David Magleby, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. Utah is one of the nation’s most religiously homogenous states, with 61 percent of the population identifying as Mormon. Romney, a prominent member of the LDS church, is extremely popular among this demographic. In addition, he has picked up Republican voters who don’t like McCain’s immigration policies.
Analysis: While the Democrats couldn't win this state in a general election, the 29 delegates up for grabs here could make the difference in a close Super Tuesday. While Obama is winning almost two-to-one in the polls, however, the Utah Democratic Party’s executive director, Todd Taylor, believes this will be “a wire finish.” And even if Hillary loses a majority, she will still make off with a few delegates due to the proportional allotment among Democrats. Romney, in large part due to his Mormon credentials, is set to crush the competition in Utah. The local press is reporting that this could be the largest margin of victory ever in a major Utah election.
Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.
By Cara Parks