It Wasn't always this way: party compectition and political goodwill in Utah, 1950-1980
AbstractAcross the nationâ€”but most particularly in Utahâ€”morality-based wedge issues began polarizing both major political parties and the electorate in general beginning in the late-1970s. This polarization has created aâ€˜moral curtainâ€™â€”sometimes called the Zion Curtain in Utahâ€”between the two parties. While the â€˜moral curtainâ€™ (or moral polarization) has attributed to deeply rooted parity between the Republican and Democratic Parties across the nation, moral polarization has created a deluge of religiously defined conservativism that has not been seen in Utah since its territorial years. Never before has Utahâ€™s State Legislature been consecutively dominated by one party like it has in the last twenty-five years. The extreme polarization in the composition of the Legislature during these times is also noteworthy. In defiant contrast, the post-World War II era was a time of political balance throughout Utah and its political institutions. During these thirty-five years, Utahâ€™s electorate balanced voting for Republicans and Democrats. Explaining why Utahns voted this way during the post-World War II era, why they stopped voting this way by the end of the 1970s, and what voting behavior might be expected in the years to come are the objectives of this paper.
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