In an election year that has made fools of pundits and other predictors, Fox 13 decided to look to Utah’s past, comparing the composition of the state legislature to presidential elections to see what we might learn about this reliably Republican state.
First, Utah has only been reliably Republican for the last 36 years, since the rise of Ronald Reagan.
Some highlights: In 1937, Democrats held 94 percent of seats in the state legislature. That coincided with Utah’s support of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
Dwight Eisenhower won Utah in 1952, and the Republican party gained a strong majority in the legislature, with 65 percent of all seats.
Lyndon Johnson won Utah’s electoral vote in 1964, and the Utah legislature switched back to the Democrats with a thin 55 percent majority of all seats.
Two years later, everything changed. That slim Democratic majority was a Republican landslide in 1966. The legislature seated in January of 1967 was 85 percent Republican. It was a time of dramatic change on the national scene, marked by Southern conservatives fleeing the Democratic Party after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in August of 1965.
An electorate disillusioned by Watergate gave Democrats their last majority in Utah with a slight majority in 1975.