Ironically, the Mitt Romney campaign once tried to get Utah to move its presidential primary up so that, according to a Salt Lake Tribune story from last year, it “might play a bigger role in the nomination process.”
That’s ironic because now some observers say Utah’s latest-in-the-nation primary on June 26 may be the one that truly helps Romney the most, pushing him over the top in terms of delegates needed to secure the nomination.
The road from here to June may seem long, but like some of those stretches through central Utah, it doesn’t appear the scenery will change much.
If you read toward the middle of this New York Times blog by Nate Silver you will see him calculate what happens if Romney continues to gain delegates at the current pace. “That would put him on pace to clinch the Republican nomination after Utah votes on June 26 or after California and several large states do on June 5.”
So, OK, California may trump the Beehive State, but that’s a big “may”.
This Washington Post piece talks about how Romney is the only candidate from 2008 who still has a strong organization in California. It says:
“California’s primary is June 5 — before only Utah’s primary on June 26. We pretty much know Romney is going to sweep all 40 of Utah’s delegates — he will win the heavily Mormon state, which is winner-take-all — so assuming Romney still has competition in early June, we will know exactly how many delegates he needs on June 5 to win the nomination.”
Remember that Salt Lake City was one of three finalists to host the GOP national convention this year. Tampa eventually was chosen. Imagine how a decisive final primary in Utah leading into a Salt Lake convention might have made the state feel more politically important.
Of course, unless the stars align and its primary really means something, Utah still won’t actually be important. It remains among the most predictable states both in terms of this year’s Republican primary and November’s general election.
But this time the state may have stumbled into a position of some real clout in spite of itself.