Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 15, 2012
Even Ophir turned red

For the first time in a presidential election, Democratic candidate failed to win a single Tooele County precinct 

Barack Obama may be America’s choice for president, but he’s not Tooele County’s.

A red wave washed over the county so completely in the last presidential election that for the first time in recent history the Democratic candidate for president did not win a majority in a single county precinct.

In 2008, the tiny former mining town of Ophir was the only blue dot in a sea of red as 48 percent of voters in the tiny hamlet joined the national trend that swept Barack Obama into the Oval Office. This year the voters of Ophir gave Mitt Romney 15 of their 25 votes.

In 2004, John Kerry and George W. Bush tied in Ophir with six votes each. Ophir was the only Tooele County precinct that year that did not give Bush a majority of their votes.

In 2000, Ophir once again was the only precinct in Tooele County to vote for the Democratic candidate for president, giving Al Gore six votes to George W. Bush’s one vote.

Historically the people that live in Ophir have ties to mining and miners tend to favor the Democratic party, according to Ophir mayor Walt Shubert, a former Democratic Tooele County sheriff.

“I’m not sure what changed people’s vote in Ophir,” said Shubert. “We have a pretty stable community — not a lot of people moving in or out. I think a lot of people in Ophir saw Romney as a hometown kind of candidate because of his ties to the Salt Lake Olympics. That and the economy were probably the biggest factors.”

Romney’s biggest support in the election came in Erda precinct No. 2.2, where two out of two voters voted for Romney, giving him 100 percent of the votes cast. Outside of that tiny anomaly, the reddest large precinct was Erda precinct No. 2.4 where 90 percent of 19 voters cast a ballot for Romney, followed by Vernon where Romney received 92 percent of 126 votes.

Grantsville supported Romney with 83 percent of all votes cast, Stansbury Park gave Romney 74 percent of its vote, and in Tooele Romney was the clear winner with 71 percent.

The only precinct in Tooele County that gave Romney less than 60 percent of its votes was Tooele’s 18th precinct on the city’s west side near the Dow James Building, which gave Romney only 58 percent.

While Obama failed to win any precincts in Tooele County, other Democrats did manage to win a few.

Democrat Dave Swan, in his bid for House District 21, won Tooele City’s 2nd precinct with 50 percent of the vote to Doug Sagers’ 45 percent. Swan also won Tooele’s 4th precinct with 49 percent of the vote to Sagers’ 48 percent. Both precincts are on the southeast end of Tooele.

Democratic candidate for Tooele County Commissioner George Young was able to win in four precincts. He took Wendover with 46 percent of the vote to Shawn Milne’s 45 percent. Young also won in Erda precinct No. 2.3, 49 to 47 percent; in Rush Valley, 48 to 44 percent; and in Tooele City’s 19th precinct, between Coleman Street and 150 West and Utah Avenue and 400 South, 45 to 44 percent.

Voter turnout in the county averaged 65 percent. That number may climb as provisional and late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots are counted next week.

The county’s outlying vote-by-mail precincts continued to outvote other precincts in the county.

Ibapah lead the way with 25 of 29 registered voters voting, for an 86 percent turnout rate. Ibapah was followed by Rush Valley with 79 percent turnout and then Stockton with 76 percent.

Ibapah, Rush Valley and Stockton all vote by mail.

Voter turnout in Tooele was below the county average at 60 percent. Stansbury Park, with 68 percent, and Grantsville, with 72 percent, exceeded the county’s average.

Unofficial election results show that Romney received 74 percent of the vote in Utah and 49 percent of the national popular vote.

One Democrat in the county was not surprised by the election results.

“I don’t think anybody thought Obama had a chance in Utah,” said Beverly White, a former Democratic legislator who represented Tooele County in the state legislature from 1972 to 1990. “I know a lot of Mormons who are Democrats that voted for Romney.”

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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