The Utah Foundation polled voters this past Spring, asking what issues were most important to them. For the first time ever, partisan politics made the list.
President Steve Kroes says their research found that voters seemed more frustrated with one-party domination in Utah - and how that’s having a real effect on politics in Utah.
“Our research ended up focusing on voter turnout. One-party dominance makes races less competitive, and probably leads to lower voter turnout. Voters just don’t feel like their votes matter. If you’re in a district where one party always wins, you are less motivated to vote. If you’re a member of the winning party, you think everyone else will carry the vote for you. If you are on the losing side, you just get frustrated.”
Even though voters might be frustrated with the state of things, this may not be the year for a turnaround. Kroes expects the “Romney tsunami” to boost turnout on the Republican side, and that could keep Republican dominance intact after this cycle.
“If there are any legislative races that are tight, it gives the advantage to Republicans. The County Mayor’s race looks to be a tight one, and Crockett would be helped by that Republican turnout.”
Kroes says he’s seeing evidence that Republicans are starting to embrace education as an issue, something voters have ranked near the top year after year.
“We’re pleased education is becoming something Republicans are becoming more engaged on,” says Kroes. “Business has become a major driver getting Republicans on board talking about education and ways to improve it.”
The constant drumbeat about education here is a lack of funding. Utah consistently comes in near the bottom for per-pupil spending. Democrats have used that fact to bludgeon Republicans for years, while Republicans have bristled. Kroes doesn’t think Republicans will hike taxes to give education more money, but he thinks they might be more open to not slashing funding.
“I think it’s difficult to expect that Republicans would ever advocate for a tax hike, but education officials might get them to hold the line on tax cuts in the next economic upswing. Our economy is starting to expand and I think there is some discussion going on, even among conservatives, that we’ve cut taxes too much and shouldn’t cut them again.”
Maybe he’s right. The foundation recently broke down Utah’s tax burden and found something very surprising. The state used to be considered a “high tax” state. That’s no longer the case.
“Utah has been 11th or 12th in the tax burden for residents and mandatory fees. The latest numbers show Utah is now below average. Part of that comes from our revenue being depressed and lawmakers not raising taxes. The other big chunk comes from those big tax cuts from 06 and 07. Those reduced our tax burden quite a bit. Now we’re below average.”
Frustration with one party rule and talk of holding the line on tax cuts? Heaven forefend!
I can’t wait for this Sunday as The Walking Dead comes back for another season. There’s something so compelling about what comes after the end of the world.
I often thought that the Utah State Capitol would be a great place to hole up in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Thick walls, heavy doors, a great view all around. Such a perfect stronghold to ward off the waves of undead roaming the post apocalyptic landscape of Salt Lake City.
Not that I have detailed plans for this or anything...
Here’s something absolutely amazing.
In 1964, the FBI conducted a four-month investigation into the lyrics of “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen because many people thought the song was obscene.
The final report is 119 pages long.
Included in the report are letters from parents to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy complaining about the song and many, hilarious (and obscene) attempts to figure out what the song actually says.
The investigation was eventually dropped and discovered no evidence of obscenity.
Brilliant and a little bit sad at the same time.
Inside Little League Football:
The Jordan Maroon Mity Mites record their third straight shutout by defeating the Alta Silver team 30-0. They’re 3-0 in league play and 6-0 overall.
It’s tempting to throw the word “juggernaut” around, but I shant.
“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” ~ George Bernard Shaw