Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: In Some Utah Precincts, Obama Received No Votes

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    AP
    A campaign worker removes candidate signs from in front of Mitt Romney's campaign office in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Romney conceded the presidential election shortly after midnight Wednesday.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Yesterday, Ward Room ran a post in which we revealed that in 37 Chicago precincts, Mitt Romney received zero votes. These precincts were in poor, African-American neighborhoods, leading some commenters to conclude that Obama’s massive margins were either due to vote fraud or racial bias.

    Today, we looked at some election results from Utah, where Mitt Romney received 73 percent of the vote -- the biggest winning margin for either candidate in any state. In 16 Utah counties, Romney’s percentage exceeded the 84 percent Obama received in his hometown of Chicago.

    And we did find precincts where Romney won unanimously. We weren’t able to examine the entire state, because most rural county clerks are, understandably, less well-staffed and well-organized than the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. In Millard County’s Flowell precinct, Romney won 14-0. In its Garrison precinct, he won 17-0. In Sanpete County’s Mount Pleasant 3 Unincorporated precinct, Romney won 14-0. These aren’t as big as the 500-0 blowouts Obama achieved in Chicago, but Utah is a much less densely populated state -- its entire population is only slightly larger than Chicago’s.

    So, are Utahans racist?

    Or could it be that they back Romney is such large numbers because the candidacy of the first Mormon to run for president is as meaningful to them as Obama’s presidency is to African-Americans. If I were a Mormon, I would have voted for Romney. He may not have won, but he demonstrated that a Mormon can run for national office without suffering religious prejudice. For a sect that was chased out of several states before finally finding a safety zone in the desert, and that has never completely shed its legacy of polygamy and racism, that was a big deal. As Mormon journalist McKay Coppins writes, the only time his fellow Romney reporters mentioned the candidate’s religion was in a few snickering speculations about Mormon underwear.

    Chicago's black community loves Obama. Utah's Mormon community loves Romney. That, not vote fraud, explains the results in both places.

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.