Biden supporters hope to gain ground in Utah (and help down-ticket Democrats too)

Biden Harris
Posted at 4:52 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 20:12:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh off his speech at the Democratic National Convention, supporters of Joe Biden smiled and talked about how they were going to make inroads in red state Utah.

"I think Utah is going to get behind him," said Devin Thorpe, the Democratic candidate for Utah's 3rd Congressional District.

On an hour-long Zoom call that FOX 13 was invited to cover, some of the Utah Democratic Party's biggest candidates and backers discussed Biden's candidacy and the benefit it could have on their down-ticket races. They talked about phone banks, getting women and other groups involved in voter drives and handing out yard signs and "Biden-Harris" bumper stickers.

"It’s a total get out the vote effort within the African-Americans here in Utah," said Darlene McDonald, a longtime community activist. "Because Black voters matter, 100%."

Chris Peterson, the Democratic candidate for Utah governor, praised Biden for his "fortitude, humility and resolve" and said President Trump has offered "division, excuses and reckless behavior."

"Our current president has not earned re-election and he is an unacceptable role model for the children of Utah," he said.

Make no mistake that Utah is a very red state. It has elected Republicans for decades. In 2016, President Trump won the state with about 45% of the vote. But that was the lowest percentage that a Republican has won Utah since 1992. Hillary Clinton received about 27% of the vote and independent candidate Evan McMullin won 21%.

Jeff Stern with "Utah for Biden" said he didn't believe President Trump would do so well this year.

"Now that they’ve seen Trump as far as what he’s done as far as morality, as far as his vision, they feel that they need an alternative," he said in an interview with FOX 13.

A poll in May by found Biden within three points of Trump in Utah. Stern said he had been contacted by Republicans who have said they will vote for Biden this year.

"We’re hearing from a significant amount of Republicans and independents that have never voted for a Democrat in their lives," he said.

The Utah Republican Party on Friday said it was not worried about Utah going "blue" anytime soon.

"After seeing Biden this week, we are more confident than ever that Utahns will elect Donald Trump this November. They didn’t have much of an agenda other than hating the president, and we look forward to the RNC convention this coming week, where we will outline a positive agenda for the next four years," Utah GOP communications director Lynda Cox told FOX 13.

Beyond the presidential race, Utah Democrats were hopeful support and enthusiasm for Biden could help down-ticket Democrats.

"I think Utah is going to vote blue this year, and I think it has implications up and down the ballot," said Thorpe.