There Aren't A Lot of Democrats In Wyoming

by Morgan Brinlee

Democrats aren't likely to be talking about Wyoming in the run-up to November's general election. While the presidential primary campaigns for both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have put the state briefly on the party's map with Sanders' and Clinton's spouses visiting with voters, Wyoming will be largely forgotten by the eventual Democratic nominee thanks to its history of turning up red. Wyoming has been a Republican stronghold for 50 years.

Wyoming has voted Republican in every general election since 1968. Its ultra-conservative voters have earned Wyoming a reputation for being the most conservative state in the United States. Democratic candidates rarely find themselves enjoying the same fevered enthusiastic support Republicans do among Wyoming's rural, white population. The last time the state turned up blue was in 1964 when Democrat and incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson managed to take the state from Republican candidate Barry Goldwater during the presidential election.

Finding a Democrat in Wyoming is rare. They make up just 20 percent of the state's registered voters, according to data gathered in April 2016 by the Wyoming Secretary of State. It's been estimated that more than six out of 10 Wyoming residents are Republican or hold Republican leanings. So when the state's Democratic Party leaders say they're moving Saturday's county caucuses to larger locations due to projections they'll see a higher-than-anticipated turnout, they're talking about accommodating an estimated 800 to 1,200 people.


Laramie County serves as Wyoming's liberal stronghold, with just under 20 percent of the state's registered Democrats residing there. Natrona, Sweetwater, and Albany Counties also boast high populations of Democratic voters. Even so, Republican voters outnumber Democrats in all 23 of Wyoming's precincts.

Democrat are also a shrinking minority in Wyoming's state legislature. Republicans make up roughly 85 percent of the governing body with 77 out of the 90 members identifying with the party. Former executive director of the state Democratic party Pete Gosar told CNN Democratic politicians on all levels generally faced rough odds from the very beginning, saying, "You immediately face 2-to-1 odds against you or maybe a little bit bigger than that. It's tough to get money and to raise the type of funds available to be competitive." He ran for governor in 2014 but lost by 32 points, CNN reported.

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In the run-up to Saturday's caucus, Wyoming voters have expressed concern for Clinton's and Sanders' determination to move away from fossil fuels like coal, one of the state's major industries. Wyoming will divide 14 delegates between Clinton and Sanders according to Saturday's caucus results. The state's four superdelegates have already pledged themselves to Clinton.