In 2016, Donald Trump received 515,231 votes in Utah. That amounted to 46% of the vote there. Fully 21.5% of Utah’s electorate voted for third party candidate Evan McMullin. In fact, Hillary Clinton and McMullin got 48.9% of the vote cast. Add in Gary Johnson’s 3.5% of the vote and there was a clear protest vote against Donald Trump in Utah.
Running with Donald Trump on the ballot, Mike Lee got 760,214 votes or 68.2% of Utah’s vote. It is notable that Mike Lee got more votes that Trump and McMullin combined. Two years later, Mitt Romney received 665,215 votes in Utah, which came out to 63% of the vote there, also getting more votes in Utah than Donald Trump.
Mitt Romney, whether you like him or not, is a good fit for the Utah electorate. The most Republican electorate in the country has warmed to Donald Trump, but is not exactly Trump country. One recent poll suggests Trump is more popular than either Lee or Romney in the state, but it is an anomaly outside all the other data.
Say what you will about Romney, but he has nothing to gain by this vote. He will be a pariah, which does have its upsides. He won’t have to turn down so many invitations now. He will be the butt of conservative jokes and a target of President Trump’s wrath. He will get to avoid the CPAC flu.
But Romney means well and joined with his Republican colleagues in voting against the second article of impeachment. Romney also has far more integrity and far higher character than many of his critics. He will sleep well at night even as others attack him on social media, radio, and television.
Believe it or not, some people actually weigh the evidence and decide things for themselves instead of going with the herd. Sometimes, they size up facts differently. Romney has always done that. I have long agreed with Jonah Goldberg that Mitt Romney speaks conservatism as if he used Rosetta Stone. But Romney unquestionably has always been a man of moral conviction not prone to tribalism.
For those who believe Romney did this for hate, vendetta, personal grievance, ulterior motives, or other nonsense, such conclusions actually say way more about those who have arrived at those conclusions than about Romney. The man realizes the Democrats will be vilifying him on the next vote just as the same Democrats praising him today spent years attacking him.
Romney votes for President Trump’s agenda in the Senate over 78% of the time (over 80% before the impeachment vote). That is higher than Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, or Lisa Murkowski. (Source). He votes more frequently for Donald Trump’s agenda than any Democrat including Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. He will vote to put Trump’s judges on the federal bench and you can hate him more knowing he is actually doing exactly what you want, but you’ll be damned if you ever say a nice word about him because of this one vote.
You can call him a Never Trumper. You can blast him for disloyalty. Just remember that he is a way more reliable vote for Trump than any Democrat and several Republicans. Also, he won’t be up for re-election until 2024 and you’ll need to move to Utah to vote against him.