I am increasingly intrigued by the presidential primaries and had been very vexed by the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire were front and center on the radar of many popular news outlets and organizations; yet there was another primary that had been going on that was largely ignored. The Wyoming Republican caucuses happened on January 5 and were won by Mitt Romney; yet still I wondered, why was this primary ignored? I understand that Wyoming isn’t the first state I think of when I become mindful of heated political battles. So I did a little bit of investigative research and found out a few surprising facts; I’ve boiled it down to three facts.
Wyoming is the least populous state. When you think of least populous you may think of small; Delaware or the District of Columbia or Maryland or Rhode Island are four which pop to mind. You may think of removed; while Wyoming is a fairly out of the way spot, I’d call points north of there (North & South Dakota or Alaska come to mind) or otherwise having some strange association; I think of Nevada as desert land, I think of Utah as highly influenced by the Latter Day Saints; as being potentially up for grabs. But the fact remains, despite the fact that it is the 10th largest state in the U.S., Wyoming is the least populated with only 522,000 or so residents.
Wyoming has religious slants? There was a chat going on, on ThinkProgress.org that touted Wyoming’s “large membership of Mormon’s.” Well, I was a little suspicious of that and some research which was corroborated with a pie chart on religionatlas.org which cited 1 in 3 people of Wyoming being Catholic. While Mormons do come in second in terms of entire population at 19%, that’s not voting adult population. One would have to draw the parallel that Mormon children make up some of that percentage; some basic research into the matter only reinforces the common stigma that Mormons have lots of kids and are encouraged to do so by the Church of Latter Day Saints. On an LDS Church views on birth control there are a number of quotes saying things such as “I have told tens of thousands of young folks that when they marry they should not wait for children until they have finished their schooling and financial desires. Marriage is basically for the family, and there should be no long delay. They should live together normally and let the children come…” – Spencer W. Kimball who was the 12th president of the Church of Latter Day Saints. So, in effect, even if that number of Mormons voting is high, it still probably is not as significant as many presume.
Delegate Shortage: However it was the information I was able to glean from an Australian news website that really caught my attention. While there are thousands of delegates anointed to the different candidates in the primary cycle, the expense of campaigning around a large state like Wyoming combined with the relatively small number of delegates given out to Republicans (it used to be 28; when Wyoming decided to move it’s primary up from later on to January 5, the Republican National Convention cut their number in half to 14. Only 12 were awarded January 5; the remaining 2 will be given at a state convention in May.) So there are only 12 of thousands of delegates to be given out; the state is huge and traveling costs money; all of these factors are large inhibitors to doing business in a state like Wyoming.
But the bigger picture here and one that I think was largely ignored was that the state basically was given the stiff arm. Wyoming stepped up their primary schedule (Republican Caucuses; the few Democrats that are in the state have held back their schedule) trying to make themselves a more viable contender in the presidential elections and they were, essentially, shown the door.
I know a lot of politics is backwards and troubling but to ignore an entire state just seems, to me, to be criminal.