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Utah last voted for a Democratic president in '64

Utah last voted for a Democratic president in '64

By Mike Stark, AP Writer | Posted - Nov. 4, 2008 at 8:27 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- When it comes to presidential politics, Utah voters rarely surprise on Election Day.

They last backed a Democrat in 1964, the same year The Beatles were singing "Can't Buy Me Love."

Since then, it's been more like "Love Me Do" for Republicans.

The state holds fast to its staunch Republican reputation. In 2004, nearly 3 out of 4 Utahns voted for President Bush, delivering his biggest margin of victory.

The question Tuesday is whether Utah voters -- most of whom wanted Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee -- will deliver those same kinds of numbers for Sen. John McCain.

McCain has polled well in Utah, opening an early lead over Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. But was a different story in February, when McCain drew a lackluster response, finishing a distant second to Romney, who received 90 percent in the Republican presidential primary.

Still, McCain's lock on the state's five electoral votes has been considered so firm that both campaign offices in the state exported their volunteers to nearby battleground states. Neither McCain nor Obama made a public appearance or significant investment in local advertising in Utah after becoming the nominee.

Brigham Young University political scientist Quin Monson said he expects Utah voters to give McCain an easy win, if for no other reason than its long-held fidelity for Republican presidential candidates.

Much of the focus is on Salt Lake County, Utah's most metropolitan county. Salt Lake City has a growing reputation for leaning Democratic. In the county, where 40 percent of the statewide ballots were cast in 2004, 60 percent voted in favor of Bush. And in Utah County and much of the rest of the western portion of the state, Bush got a whopping 84 percent.

Bush's popularity has dipped since then, though Utahns have tended to take a more favorable view of him than most parts of the country.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Mike Stark Writer


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