Is voter registration the key for Salt Lake County Democrats?

Over the last few election cycles, there has been a gradual change when it comes to the way Salt Lake County has voted. It has gone from solidly supporting Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton last year. However, the last two elections were probably anomalies, with Romney heading the ticket in 2012, and right-of-center Evan McMullin, a Utah Mormon, leading an independent challenge in 2016. Hopefully, 2020 will bring a return to some sense of normality to presidential elections in Utah.

With that, Democrats still have an uphill battle when it comes to making Salt Lake County solid blue, but there is a path to long-term success.

One way that Democrats can grow their numbers in Salt Lake County is by doing a major voter registration push. In municipalities where Hillary Clinton performed well, the percentage of the voting age population (according to the U.S. Census estimates for 2016) who are actually registered to vote is lower compared to the rest of the county. In Salt Lake City, where Clinton received 66% of the vote, only 60% of the voting age population (VAP) is registered to vote. If the percentage of VAP was registered at 70%, this would add around 15,000 new voters, with about 10,000 of those voters favoring the Democratic candidate. And since Salt Lake City’s turnout rate (85.64%) is actually the third highest among county municipalities (behind Holladay and Draper), there is a strong likelihood of these new voters turning out.



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