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The Skier’s Vote

How skiers voted in the primaries could be indicative of their pull in the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election on November 8

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Presidential Election on November 8 is less than a month away. To look at where skiers stand in this year’s contentious election, we dug through numbers to look at how ski towns voted in the primaries earlier this year. Numbers are taken from city results, and for unincorporated areas, at the county level. See the charts above for a breakdown of who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries (blue) and on the Republican side, for Donald Trump (red) in Aspen, Vail, Driggs, Jackson, Bozeman, Whitefish, Girdwood, Park City, Truckee, Bend, and Burlington. Voter registration for the Presidential Election closes soon. To register to vote, go here.

Ski bums felt the Bern big time this primary season, while slimmer numbers of Republicans in resort areas across the West fell under Donald Trump’s charm.

It’s certainly no surprise that ski towns lean liberal—and are often surrounded by a sea of red—but an extensive analysis of primary and caucus results in 11 different resort areas reveals some interesting political phenomena.

According to Snowsports Industries America, there are 31 million people in the United States who participate in snow sports. And while a majority of those skiers don’t live in what is traditionally known as “ski towns,” these places certainly reflect skiers’ culture, beliefs, ideology, and political views. This election brings to a head many issues pertinent to skiers—climate change, public land management and access, the economy, jobs, and housing, to name a few. If skiers want their voices to be heard, they must show up to the polls to vote for the next U.S. president on November 8th.

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“I think a lot of younger Bernie supporters probably won’t vote—they’re more jumping on a fun bandwagon—while people who were Democrats before Bernie will support Hillary Clinton.”—Kim Keeley, chair of the Teton County Democratic Party in Idaho

On the Democrat side, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won primary and caucus contests from Girdwood, Alaska, to Burlington, Vermont, averaging 65 percent of the vote and reaching as high as 86 percent in his home state’s most populous city. Hillary Clinton fared the best in Aspen and Bend with 45 percent of the vote. Interestingly, some of Sanders’ most ardent fans may be in deep red Alaska, where he received 80 percent of the caucus vote, and more caucus-goers declared their preference for him than any Republican candidate.

But with several western states holding the less formal caucuses—which, in some cases, are open to anyone—local Democratic Party leaders are concerned that enthusiasm for Sanders, especially among transient seasonal workers, may not translate into Hillary Clinton votes this November.

Show your American pride by showing up to the polls on November 8 to vote in the U.S. Presidential Election. John Lange takes his American flag down the Enchanted Forest at Squaw Valley. PHOTO: Ryan Salm
Show your American pride by showing up to the polls on November 8 to vote in the U.S. Presidential Election. John Lange takes his American flag down the Enchanted Forest at Squaw Valley. PHOTO: Ryan Salm

“A huge number of people in their twenties came to caucus, and a lot of them weren’t even registered to vote,” said Kim Keeley, chair of the Teton County Democratic Party in Idaho. “I think a lot of younger Bernie supporters probably won’t vote—they’re more jumping on a fun bandwagon—while people who were Democrats before Bernie will support Hillary Clinton.”

Please Vote. What else are you going to do on November 8? PHOTO: Hank de Vre
Please Vote. What else are you going to do on November 8? PHOTO: Hank de Vre

Republicans in ski towns were a little more diverse in their primary-season preferences, although Donald Trump won the majority of resort-area primaries and caucuses, especially after he was declared the presumptive nominee on May 3 when all his rivals had dropped out. Eagle County (Vail) Republicans narrowly preferred U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, and an equally small percentage of Republicans in Burlington chose Ohio Governor John Kasich. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz carried Alaska (narrowly), Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah (commandingly)—despite preferences for Trump in Girdwood, Aspen, and Jackson. Trump supporters in resort areas in Montana, California, and Oregon voted in line with their states.

Perhaps the most bizarre contest played out in Jackson. Per Wyoming Republican Party rules, county conventions choose one representative to send to the Republican National Convention. At the March 12 Teton County caucus, a Trump supporter speaking zealously for his candidate narrowly tilted the last of four rounds of voting in his favor, receiving 21 votes compared to 19 for the hopeful Rubio delegate.

The outcome was somewhat of a surprise to party leaders.

“I believe it was as much Teton County going against the establishment as it was the passionate speech,” said Teton County Republican Party Chair Tote Turner, who noted that his constituents are more moderate than in the rest of Wyoming (which went for Cruz). “We don’t necessarily vote mainstream here.”

Voter registration for the Presidential Election closes soon. To register to vote, go here.