The state of Utah, as a whole, claims to support to Republican Party. But, what about the ever-growing capital of the state: Salt Lake City?
In Salt Lake City, Utah, 39% of the population claim they affiliate themselves with the Democratic party. Only 19% of the population in Salt Lake City claims to support the Republican party.
This liberal trend in Salt Lake City has increased, especially in the last 10 years. I’ve lived in Salt Lake City for the last year and don’t necessarily have a party affiliation.
The information in this article is based on recent legislation and answers from the local community in Salt Lake City.
History of SLC’s Party Affiliation
It is a well-known fact that Utah, as a whole, was founded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This religion defines itself as Christians and, typically, those of Christian faith are more conservative and tend to support the Republic Party.
This is the same for Salt Lake City, Utah. It was founded by the LDS church and its headquarter are located in Downtown Salt Lake City. However, the religious affiliation that used to be so dominant in this city is diminished, as well as the political influence that accompanied it.
In Salt Lake City, the Christian population today is the minority population. As a result of that, the political affiliation has moved from mostly Republican to more Democrat and the city has more of a liberal influence in the most recent years.
The current mayor of Salt Lake City is Erin Mendenhall. She’s the third female to be elected to this position and her party affiliation is Democratic.
The state of Utah has elected Republicans into the national positions, but the local government is very different.
There has not been a Republican mayor elected in Salt Lake City since 1976. Since then, every mayor has been Democratic and three of those elected officials have been female.
The previous mayor of Salt Lake City was also a Democratic woman who claimed to be a member of the LGBTQ community and had a very liberal influence.
This liberal voting trend seems to just continue and the projected elected officials in the next few elections are expected to be Democratic.
Current Party Affiliation
The current party affiliation of the majority population in Salt Lake City is Democratic. Especially in 2020, Salt Lake City was a hot spot for protests; police brutality protests, Black Lives Matter protests and LGBTQ rallies.
In the nation, during 2020, the cities that have more of a liberal influence held more rallies in the summer. The first one held in Salt Lake City was on May 30. A group formed by Library Park to protest the death of George Floyd.
This rally turned into a protest, which then turned into a violent riot in which a police car was flipped onto its side and started on fire. The only other cities that had violent riots were largely Democratic and liberal-influenced cities.
The second scheduled, organized protest happened on June 10. This was labeled as a BLM protest and occurred outside the capital building in downtown Salt Lake City.
The third organized protest was held on June 13. This one was specifically calling for community control of police and protesting police brutality.
The fourth protest occurred on August 8. This was organized by the Black Lives Matter organization.
The fifth rally was scheduled for August 27. Again, it was organized by the Black Lives Matter organization.
Salt Lake City’s population has a growing number of LGBT citizens. It’s considered a safe space for this community and rallies are held often for equality for this group. The sixth rally was on October 11 and was held in support of the local LGBT community.
LGBTQ rallies are more frequent than just one a summer, but the one held on October 11 was specifically organized in support of this issue. In July of 2019 Utah was ranked 2nd in the nation in support of rights for the LGBTQ community.
In 2017, a bill was proposed to stop any positive homosexuality discussions in school. However, instead of banning this discussion, the judge changed the bill to discussing extra-marital sexual acts. This includes heterosexual and homosexual acts.
This was largely supported by the LGBTQ community in Salt Lake City and was widely celebrated in the city. This bill helped provide a safe space in schools for students who identify as LGBTQ.
Now, protests, rallies, and riots are not necessarily an indicator of a liberal influence, but in this case, it is. Salt Lake City has a large population of Democratic Party members and liberal influence.
Recent Laws Passed with Liberal Influence
Some of the most recent legislation passed has been a result of the liberal protests from the summer of 2020.
The first being SB 138: the “Violence, Disorder, and Looting Enforcement Protection Act.” This bill would impose stricter penalties for rioting, harassment, and assaulting a police officer during a riot.
This bill has a bit more of a conservative influence in its proposed additional protection on our first responders and police officers.
The second bill, HB 162: The “Peace Officer Training Amendments” bill would require 16 hours of a police officer’s 40 hours of annual training to focus on de-escalation, arrest control, and mental health, and other crisis intervention responses.
This proposed bill has more liberal support and is a result of the call, from liberal affiliates, in police reform and preventing police brutality.
One big issue that’s been very prevalent in Salt Lake City is the legalization of recreational marijuana. There seems to be a lot of tension when it comes to this issue. The conservative population supports the law making it recreational marijuana illegal.
The more liberal community in the population supports the legalization of recreational marijuana. This is especially difficult because, although it is illegal, it is readily available and is widely used around the city.
Being a local myself, I can attest to this fact.
The marijuana bill isn’t the only thing that causes tension in the city. The simple ideology differences in the conservative and liberal parties cause a lot of tension in the general population of Salt Lake City.
Because of recent events, the tension does seem to be growing a bit.
Strong Liberal Influence Despite Religious, Conservative Influence
Salt Lake City tends to follow the national trend for religious diversity. About 50% of the city’s population claims to be religious or affiliates with a specific religion.
According to Best Places, roughly 25% of the population claims to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some of the other religions the population claim are Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other Christian faiths.
36% of Salt Lake City’s population claims they have no religious affiliation and this number keeps increasing in recent years.
Even with the large influence of Christian-based faiths, more and more of the population are becoming less religious. Generally speaking, Christians tend to be more conservative and, because of this religious shift, the political affiliation is changing as well.
As mentioned above, Salt Lake City is where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints headquarters are located. It is widely known that this is a Christian church and most of its members identify as Republicans or Conservative.
The LDS church headquarters are in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City and have been since 1847. That being said, the large Christian influence has little influence on the community political affiliation and local government.
It seems that though Salt Lake attracts many LDS tourists, it isn’t as attractive as a place to live. More members seem to live in other cities in Utah.
Life as a Local
According to a survey answered by Salt Lake City locals, despite the similar conservative and liberal population percentages, the feeling in the city is much different.
Although there is still a conservative population in Salt Lake City, it doesn’t feel that way to the locals.
The general consensus is that the liberal population tends to be more prominent and louder in their presence than the present conservative population.
According to the locals, the atmosphere in the city took a big turn in the spring and summer of 2020. Besides the organized protests and rallies listed above, there were groups gathered in downtown Salt Lake City and outside the capitol building every weekend.
There were both liberal and conservative rallies, but the more liberal influenced gatherings happened more often than the conservative influenced rallies.
Because of this, the conservative population has started to relocate out of Salt Lake City and has moved to the surrounding areas where the liberal influence is less prominent.
What does this mean if you move to Salt Lake City? Well, if you are liberal, you may like the new changes more here than in other parts of Utah. There seems to be some real change happening.
If you are conservative, it’s still a good place to be. Even with the recent influx, there are still a lot of other people you will agree politically with. Tensions can run high, but a difference in opinion helped form this country.
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