Author’s Note: I liiiiiive! Sorta. I resemble someone who is living. Sorry for the hiatus; Life Stuff happened. I’ll try to return us to our regularly scheduled ranting.
Wyoming is tied with Utah for being the most Republican state in the US. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index we are an R+25. I’m not quite sure what that means, other than that we are hella Republican. In the last election, even some of our most liberal counties went hard for Trump. On the Federal level, our last Democratic Senator stopped serving in 1977. (We’ve never had a female national Senator, btw). We only get one Representative, and our last Democrat Representative stopped serving in 1978. (Our last three Representatives have all been women, and have all been poster children for “why being a woman doesn’t mean you’re good for other women.”) We have a weird habit of switching between Republican and Democratic governors, but we’ve been firmly in the hands of the Republicans since 2011, aka, “the almost-decade in which our economy caught on fire and every social service faced cuts.” We actually lost Democrat seats at the local level in the last election. Our state Senate has 30 seats, and 27 are currently held by Republicans. We have a 60-member House, of which 51 members are Republican. If you are currently a Democrat in Wyoming, you are screwed.
Other Democrats might look at this situation and see and irredeemable cesspool of entrenched Republicanism. A lot of Democrats have—we experience pretty severe “brain drain” and even more severe “Democrat drain” where people with mindsets similar to mine look around at a state that represents their values in almost no way, shape, or form, and says “I’m getting the fuck out of here.” And I genuinely don’t blame them.
But I don’t see an irredeemable situation. I see an opportunity.
One of our problems, as Democrats, is that we have the numbers, but not the spread. Clinton won by millions of votes, but those votes were squished up into California, New York, etc. We needed them in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We win by giant margins in major metropolitan areas, but end up overwhelmed by the opposing party in the state legislature. After fleeing to liberal enclaves, we watch in horror as middle America votes against its own interests with a stubbornness that is usually reserved for movies about underdog boxers. If we really want to change politics on both a national and a local level, we need to be spreading out, readjusting balances of power, and making Republican wins a lot harder to come by.
There is no easier place to do this than in Wyoming. With the addition of a comparatively small number of Democrats over a wide area, we could flip the entire state.
On the surface, we’re not the most obvious choice for a giant influx of fresh-faced social justice warriors. The lead that Republicans have in the state is large—Trump won by almost 120,000 votes in Wyoming, whereas he won by only 100,000 votes in Montana and only about 37,000 votes in Alaska, two states with somewhat similar populations and political temperaments. Ostensibly either of those states would be a better destination.
But that doesn’t account for the chances for a total state flip. I’m talking city, state, and national politicians. The governor. The county commissioners. The county attorneys. Hell, the coroners. When I die, I want the person digging through my body to believe that I deserved control over said body during my life.
Wyoming is the least populated state in the United States. We have roughly 579,000 people, with just over 263,000 registered voters. In comparison, Alaska and Montana have almost as many registered voters (or more registered voters) than Wyoming has citizens, at roughly 528,000 and roughly 700,000, respectively. That means that every additional Democrat in Wyoming has at least twice the impact that they would have in another state.
An influx of roughly 150,000 (something that sounds huge right now, but is a bit more modest when compared to other state migration rates) could not only ensure a Democrat won our “per capita-outsizedly powerful but usually technically useless” three electoral votes, but could ensure that we won our lone House Representative seat (Republican Liz “She Doesn’t Even Go Here” Cheney won over her Democratic opponent Ryan Green by roughly 80,000 votes) both of our Senate seats (Barrasso and Enzi won over their opponents with 130,000 votes and 92,000 votes, respectively) and take up residence in the governor’s mansion (Matt Mead beat his opponent by 55,000 votes.)
At the local level, the effect could be even more pronounced. Most of the state Senators and Representatives won their seats by margins of less than 10,000 votes. In one race, by barely more than 50 votes. Some of my most extreme ideological opposites in the state Senate and House won by margins that would seem pathetic in other states—Senator Bouchard won by less than 400 votes, Senator Bebout by less than 5,000 votes, and Representative Clem by less than 3,000 votes. Representative Steinmetz, who has repeatedly introduced anti-abortion legislation and whom I have repeatedly inundated with Strongly Worded e-mails, was unopposed. That is just sad. All of these could be turned around almost instantaneously with some strategic Democrat migration.
Now I won’t lie: the move might be bumpy for some. We’re mostly known for terrible things happening. Montana keeps trying to steal all of our Yellowstone glory. Kanye released his last album here. And as I mentioned before, our economy is currently on fire. We hitched our economic wagon to the oil and gas industry long ago and have refused to unhitch it, even as we pass “unwise” and hurtle towards “are you fucking kidding me?” Both jobs and housing might be initially a bit hard to come by (it would really, really help if the Democrats who moved here were independently wealthy or had telecommuting jobs.) But we don’t have an income tax, so if you actually find a job, you get to keep a lot of your money.
And hey, given the direction that climate change is taking us in, there’s a good shot that Wyoming will one day be the new California, and won’t you be glad you invested in some “soon-to-be beach-front property? (Am I doing “optimism” right? I don’t think I’m doing it right.)
Signed: Feminist Fury.
Note: this post has been edited from its original version. I’ve deleted some commentary that I feel was less respectful than I wanted to be. I may get angry and curse, but I’m still a Lady, damnit. I like to be able to express my anger without making personal attacks.
Featured image of a map of Wyoming is in the Public Domain and can be found on Wikimedia Commons.