The state shift will be an ongoing series examining the shift in presidential vote between 2016 and 2020 in each state.
Wyoming is one of the most rural state in the union and it also is a ruby red state. However, what if I told you Wyoming shifted more to the left than its more populous neighbor, Idaho. Wyoming shifted 3.0% left and as you can see from the map above the shift was pretty wide across the state, with the largest shift coming in Teton county from either party. Trump won Wyoming by 46.3% in 2016 and his margin fell to 43.3% in 2020.
Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming all have one thing in common, one fast growing county flipping to the left. The only county to flip in Wyoming was Albany county. Albany County was won by Donald Trump in 2016 by 4.2% and Joe Biden carried the county by 2.7% in 2020. Albany County shares a southern border with Colorado another state that shifted to the left in 2020. Albany county has grown by 6,700 residents for a 20% increase in population. The county owes its more left leaning voters to the University of Wyoming, which is in Laramie. The county is headed toward being a blue county in the future with migration from Colorado and with the University of Wyoming continuing to gorw.
The libertarian vote is another factor that diminished during the 2020 election cycle. Gary Johnson in 2016 was able to gain 5.2% of the vote versus Jo Jorgensen’s 2.1%. The libertarian vote was strongest in counties that shifted left in 2020, as 7 counties that had over 5% libertarian vote shifted left in 2020, and only 3 shifted to the right. The only libertarian state legislature member in the entire country is also in the state in Wyoming House District 39, which is located in Sweetwater county and was represented by a democratic until this cycle, where Libertarian Marshall Burt won the seat by 9.7%.
The two states we have taken a look at both are more likely to flip in the future than Wyoming. I would rank the three states in this order 1. Utah 2. Idaho 3. Wyoming. However, all three states are growing quickly so the future could look very different than the present reality as states such as Ohio have shifted quickly to the right, these states could go the way of Colorado and shift to the left. Democrats should continue to focus their efforts on Teton County and Albany County to hold their two counties for future elections. Teton County had the largest shift from 2016-2020, the counties partisanship average for the last two presidential elections was (D+ 32.2) and the county is growing very quickly at a clip of about 5,200 residents since 2000. The county is home to Jackson Hole and is the recreational hub for the state. The next step for democrats to become competitive in Wyoming will be finding a way to connect with rural voters and voters in “cities” in Wyoming. Natrona County (Cheyenne) and Laramie County (Casper) with 79,858 and 99,500 residents. Democrats will need to continue to make inroads in these counties, and they did during this election cycle with both counties shifting to the left. However, Natrona County still has an average partisanship of (R+ 49.3) and Laramie County’s is (R+ 30.3), so until Democrats can win these counties their chances will face super long odds at ever winning anything statewide in Wyoming. Wyoming is growing though, with around 100,000 residents moving to the state since 2,000, but the state that featured the most shift leftward in our group of Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah is also the most Republican with Wyoming being (R+ 33.3), Idaho (R+ 30.7), and Utah (R+ 20.5). Wyoming is an incredibly interesting state and it will be interesting to see how the state’s politics develop over the course of the next several cycles.