Utah: A Purple State
Every election year, the UUP does a professional survey. We do this for several reasons: to learn more about which issues are important to voters, to help inform our candidates’ campaigns, and to track how awareness about the UUP has changed over time. I’d like to share some interesting results with you.
One big take-away was how many of our fellow Utah voters are moderates. Only 14% of our respondents considered themselves “very conservative.” Combine them with the “somewhat conservative” respondents, and about 40% of Utahns consider themselves some variety of conservative. That sounds like a lot, but a whopping 37% consider themselves straight-up moderates. Compare that to the 23% who consider themselves some kind of liberal and the 6.5% who consider themselves very liberal. Taken together, this means that the majority of Utahns are not conservative! This is a much more significant percentage of the electorate than most people realize. Utah is far more “purple” than the right’s marketing efforts would have us believe.
But do our respondents just say that they’re moderate? And is their definition of moderate the same as ours? In line with other polling done recently in the state, they are genuinely moderates like us, even more than the above numbers would indicate.
Responses to our survey question about abortion perhaps illustrates this most clearly. Only about 7.5% of voters wanted to see abortion universally illegal, while about 20.5% wanted to see it universally legal; these are your stereotypical pro-life (or as I would say, pro-birth) and pro-choice positions. When it came to a more nuanced view, 44% agreed with the UUP position and want to see abortion generally illegal but with exceptions. That alone is more than twice as much as either of the extremist positions! But importantly, another 25% wanted to see abortion generally legal but with restrictions. That means that more than two-thirds of Utah voters want to see some access with some restrictions. Often abortion is discussed as a binary issue (“pro-life vs. pro-choice”), but a better question than, “Are you one extreme or the other?” would be, “Are you an absolutist or do you want to see nuance?” The nuanced, moderate position overwhelmingly wins!
Even on other hot-button issues like gun control, our state is chock-full of moderates. We asked our respondents to rate how strongly they agreed with the statement, “I support some reasonable gun regulations (safe storage, universal background checks, etc.).” A surprising 52% said they strongly agreed, and 24% somewhat agreed, meaning more than three-quarters of Utahns support reasonable gun regulations.
In many ways, this survey tells us what we already intuitively know. Contrary to what we’re often told, our fellow Utahns are more moderate, more nuanced, and more interested in building up our communities and state than they are in extremist tribalism. These moderates are discouraged, though, and need what we have to offer! Encouragement, optimism, and above all, representation is what they need most. And that’s what the UUP offers. Help us get the word out and advance the UUP candidates who can provide real representation!
Together, let’s make Utah even better!
—Hillary Stirling, Party Chair