A poll released Sunday provides perhaps the clearest evidence of the damage current Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump would do to the GOP if he secured the party’s nomination. Despite the fact that the state has been solidly Republican for 50 years, and is considered one of the most reliably conservative states in the Union, Utah would vote for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for POTUS if Trump were the Republican nominee.
Yep. The disdain for Trump’s obnoxious behavior is so great in the Beehive State that Utahns would do what was previously thought of as inconceivable and vote for either a female Democrat or a Democratic Socialist. According to the Deseret News/KSL survey, 38% of Utah voters would choose Hillary Clinton while 36% would cast their ballot for Trump. Bernie, on the other hand, is far a far more appealing choice, with 48% saying they’d vote for the Vermont Senator compared to just 37% for the small-handed reality TV star.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Utah is all of a sudden turning blue. If either Ted Cruz or John Kasich were the Republican nominee, they’d absolutely destroy both Hillary and Bernie, with Clinton getting doubled up by both GOPers and Sanders doing slightly better, but still behind by double-digits.
Recent GOP polls show Trump is in a very distant third-place in the state, with Cruz getting more than 50% support and Kasich tallying nearly a third of the votes. And this was before The Donald talked shit about Mitt Romney, saying he isn’t a real Mormon. As of now, Lyin’ Ted appears poised to gain all 40 of the state’s delegates, as long as he gets a majority of the votes in the caucuses.
Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins addressed why Trump is faring so poorly in the deep-Red state, pointing out that the state’s large Mormon population bristles at the celebrity billionaire’s coarseness, multiple marriages and hateful rhetoric towards immigrants.
On immigration, for example, the hard-line proposals that have rallied Trump’s fans — like building a massive wall along the country’s southern border to keep immigrants out — are considerably less likely to fire up conservative Latter-day Saints. The LDS church has spent years lobbying for “compassionate” immigration reform. In 2011, church leaders offered a full-throated endorsement of “the Utah Compact,” a state legislative initiative that discouraged deporting otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants and offered a path to residency for families that would be separated by deportation.
These pro-immigrant attitudes are common among rank-and-file believers, many of whom have served missions in Latin American countries. Mormons are more than twice as likely as evangelicals to say they support “more immigration” to the United States, according to Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell. And a 2012 Pew survey found Mormons were more likely to say immigrants “strengthen” the country than they were to call immigrants an overall “burden.” When Romney ran for president in 2012 on a restrictionist immigration platform, his views were widely noted in LDS circles for being at odds with his church.
Trump is off-putting to Mormons for more predictable reasons as well. His blatant religious illiteracy, his penchant for onstage cursing, his habit of flinging crude insults at women, his less-than-virtuous personal life and widely chronicled marital failures — all of this is anathema to the wholesome, family-first lifestyle that Mormonism promotes. And demographically speaking, Mormons tend to reside outside Trump’s base of support anyway. They have higher-than-average education levels, whereas Trump does best among voters without any college education; they are more likely to be weekly churchgoers, while Trump performs better with Christians who attend services infrequently.
While many have stated over and over that Trump would be a disaster for the Republican Party if he is the nominee, this presents the clearest early evidence to support that theory. Seriously, if you can’t win Utah as a GOP nominee, how do you expect to win swing states?