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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Utah’s Partisan Divide Has Widened Since The 2016 Election

An illustration of Elephant and Donkey boxing gloves.
Like the rest of the country, Utah’s partisan divide has grown since 2016

In the time since the last presidential election, Republicans and Democrats in Utah have become more ideologically divided, according to a new report from the Utah Foundation.

The report found, through a survey, that Republicans in Utah are just about as conservative as they were in 2016, but Democrats have become more liberal. The number of “consistently liberal” voters in the state increased by 23%.

“A shift towards taking more liberal positions — it kind of mirrors what's happening across the United States as well,” said research analyst Christopher Collard.

But, at the same time, Collard said, Republicans make up more than half of registered Utah voters, so the political landscape hasn’t drastically shifted.

“Because they make up such a large population of the number of voters in Utah, it’s in some ways not changed as much as it could have,” he said.

The report also found that Utah Republicans are more concerned about taxes, the economy and crime, while Democrats in the state are more concerned about racism, public health and climate change. However, members of both parties agree that K-12 education and housing affordability are top issues.

“Those, in many ways, represent opportunities that Utahns can work together and achieve improvement in those areas,” Collard said. “But, when it comes down to how the right approach to education, then opinions can differ a little bit.”

For example, conservative voters supported putting more education funding toward smaller class sizes and technology, while liberal voters favored funneling that money toward teacher pay and counselors.

Both sides also generally agreed that the Utah state Legislature “should not change citizen referendums.” The Legislature has altered all three propositions that voters approved during the 2018 election.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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