With Election Day just one week away, I’ll be profiling some of the pivotal swing states that will decide the next President.
Today I’ll be zeroing in on three relatively little states. But as they say, big things often come in small packages. Though they don’t count for many electoral votes, Utah, New Hampshire, and Iowa are among the swingiest this year.
Utah is divided into three major demographics: Mormons, Non-Mormons, and Fundamentalist Mormons. While mainstream LDS members make up the majority of the electorate here, the other two groups could be decisive in a close race. Here’s a breakdown:
1. Mainstream Mormons
When it comes to family values, Mormon voters are the real deal. Unlike the Moral Majority Southern Baptist “wink wink nudge nudge” type of family values voter, Mormons absolutely have to vote the most upright candidate due to a dictum from church-founder Joseph Smith. Obviously this is bad news for Donald Trump. Trump’s lifetime of sexual crimes may be tolerable to the shoeless fundamentalist Protestant breed of Christian who will hold their nose and vote Republican so they can get strict constitutionalist Supreme Court justices who will repeal laws on the importation of exotic snakes for handling and ban trans people from using any bathroom, even their own. But they won’t fly here in the heart of LDS territory. While some Mormons — for instance Jason Chaffetz — may come crawling back due to the profound perversity of Hillary Clinton’s awful crime of emailing Sidney Blumenthal about Hamilton tickets, the vast majority have abandoned Trump for good. Expect Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate whom I profiled back in August, to rake in votes from his fellow Mormons.
This is a motley group of liberal transplants, agnostic young people, and ex-Mormons mostly centered around Salt Lake City. Some are just here for the high-paying jobs and good weather; others were kicked out of the church for such crimes as attempting to get a divorce from their eternal marriage or counterfeiting gold plates; others still are Millennials who grew up in Mormon households but gravitated away from the faith perhaps because they were lured by the siren call of popular culture and rap music or couldn’t meet a 2 conversion per year missionary quota. A lot of this group is culturally conservative and will go to Trump, but the remainder are Hillary supporters. If the Hillary hopes to profit off the three-way race in Utah, she will need to wow these voters with a bold proposal like eternal marriage family court reform.
3. Fundamentalist Mormons
These folks tend to dwell in isolated, frequently-armed compounds in the rural, Southern parts of the state. They consider Mormonism, with its prohibition on caffeine and wearing regular underwear, to be too permissive and crave a more stringent approach to religious life. Their top issue is, of course, polygamy, which the mainstream church has abandoned. Trump, with his many wives and affairs, is probably the closest thing to a dream candidate to these voters. It’s clear this is where the real battle for Utah is happening, as robocalls paid by a white supremacist calling Evan McMullin gay are pretty much written for Warren Jeffs types to hear. With Utah’s 6 electoral votes crucial to Trump’s chances of winning the White House, expect the conversation to turn to the finer points of Mormon theology and the Joseph Smith Papyri as we get down the home stretch.
New Hampshire came out “big league” for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the primaries, but we may not see the same repeat of the twin horrors of whiteness and maleness on November 8. Luckily for Hillary Clinton, a huge number of Trump and Bernie’s voters from earlier this year are now in prison for attempting “sovereign citizen”-style legal defenses in their weapon violations trials. If more of these destructive voters are either detained or die in shootouts with state police in the next week, this could be Hillary’s state to lose.
Iowans grow up on the sweaty crucible that is the wrestling mat. From the time they can walk, they are berated by shouting men who call them fat, weak, and force them to endure great pain for very little reward. Ingrained in every Iowan man is a desire to be harangued cruelly, and that’s where Trump comes in. Trump’s repeated verbal assaults and nonspecific rambling about victory make him the delinquent father figure that these unironic trucker hat-wearing simpletons made out of their first wrestling coaches, who were of course the delinquent father figures replacing their actual delinquent fathers in the first place.
Still, many Iowans also feel a similar need to be harangued by a strong woman, and in spirals of drunken Staind-fueled spirals of self destruction, may equate Hillary Clinton with their ex girlfriends and wives who told them they’d leave if they go DUI number 8. With these pathologies at hand, it’s a toss up between who these angry, angry people will choose to verbally demean them one week from now.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years and is the host of the Digcast, a weekly podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet @carl_diggler.