In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the state of Utah by 48 points.
In 2016, Utah is now on The Fix's list of competitive states amid polling that suggests that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running close to even there.
We are moving Utah from the solidly Republican category to the leaning Republican category in our latest rankings of the 2016 map. That move comes in the wake of polling out of the Beehive State that put Trump and Clinton at 35 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson at 13 percent. Those numbers, coupled with Trump's dismal performance in the Utah Republican primary -- he got 14 percent in the March 22 vote, behind even John Kasich -- suggests that the real estate mogul's tone and brand of conservatism are a uniquely poor fit for the state.
With the Utah move, here's the current state of The Fix's electoral map:
We now rate three states -- Arizona, Georgia and Utah -- as leaning Republican. That trio accounts for 33 electoral votes. Seven states -- Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin -- totaling 95 electoral votes remain toss-ups. Four states -- Colorado, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania -- are leaning Democratic; they account for 51 electoral votes. (For a full write-up of each competitive state, click here.)
It's important to remember that our decision to change Utah's rating should not be taken as an assumption that the race will remain as competitive as it looks today. The last time a Democratic presidential nominee won Utah was in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson did it. The worst showing by a GOP presidential nominee since then was George H.W. Bush's 43.4 percent in 1992 -- the result of Ross Perot's strong third-party candidacy. Romney won 73 percent in 2012 --in no small part because of his Mormon faith and strong ties to the state. But John McCain won 63 percent to Barack Obama's 34 percent in 2008 -- a horrible national election for Republicans -- and George W. Bush won 72 percent in Utah in his 2004 reelection race. The last time a Utah Democrat won a Senate race was in 1970 when Frank Moss did it.
In short, Utah is one of the most consistently Republican states in the country. So although it may be flirting with the idea of backing Clinton today, history suggests that it will return to its Republican roots by November. That's the caveat that should always be kept in mind, from now until, say, October: It will take a while before we have polling that's take-it-to-the-bank reliable. National polls give us a broad sense of the weather, but state polls are the ones that tell us where it's going to rain. But right now we're at the Farmer's Almanac stage of rain-prediction, not the same-day forecast (or even the ten-day).
That said, Trump's poor showing in the state's primary, his broader struggles to convince Mormons -- a usually reliable GOP voting bloc -- to support him, and new polling showing a statistical dead heat are all reasons to put Utah on the watch list.