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Conference: "The Political Demography and Geography of the Intermountain West"

October 8, 2010

Background

The Intermountain West region, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, is the new swing region in American politics. Many national observers and commentators have only a superficial understanding of the profound economic, political, and social changes that continue to reshape this region. Brookings Mountain West is pleased to offer a collection of contemporary research papers on recent demographic trends that alter this region and its politics. These studies, including a public opinion survey that explores attitudes on state and national politics, alternative energy, education, deficits, health care, immigration, and other topics illuminate the political landscape of this region on the eve of the 2010 elections and in advance of the 2012 presidential race.

Presentations

America's New Swing Region: The Political Demography and Geography of the Mountain West

The 2008 Presidential election showed the political importance of the Mountain West, America's new swing region. Changing demographics and shifting geographical voting patterns have put this region in play between the two parties and competition is sure to be fierce for many years to come. This paper examines the political demography and geography of states in the Mountain West in anticipation of this November's elections and the 2012 Presidential election.

Authors: Ruy Teixeira, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution; Joint Fellow, Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation; William Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution


The Metro Politics of the Intermountain West

The Intermountain West region may be America's new swing region. The region's suburbs are where the battle lines between the parties form. This paper looks at the region's metropolitan political dynamics and predict how they shape the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Authors: Robert E. Lang, Professor and Director, Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute, UNLV; Thomas Sanchez, Professor and Chair of Urban Affairs and Planning,Virginia Tech


Hispanics and the Changing Racial Demographics of the Intermountain West

In the past decade, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the nation's population grains, while whites accounted for less than a fifth. The minority vote played a significant role in Obama's victories in Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. Issues such as immigration will make the Hispanic vote crucial in November. This paper examines the rising significance of Hispanics and other racial minorities in the Intermountain West electorate.

Author: William Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution


Millennials and Politics in the Intermountain West

The Millennial generation was distinctively Democratic and liberal in the 2008 elections, as well as in 2006 and 2004. Using national surveys conducted in 2009 and 2010, as well as exit polling from 2008, the political views and partisan dispositions of Millennials in the Intermountain West will be compared with older adults in the region and with their Millennial counterparts elsewhere in the U.S.

Author: Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research, Pew Research Center


Education in the Intermountain West

This paper provides baseline comparative data across the six intermountain west states regarding commonalities and differences in the region related to current K-12 education policy. Among the topics to be explored are: demographics, state funding issues, state accountability issues, and the political challenges to improving K-12 education.

Author: Teresa Jordan, Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, UNLV


Public Opinion in the Intermountain West

This paper will present results of a major new survey of the Intermountain West states. The survey will examine the distinctive political, policy and cultural attitudes of Intermountain West residents and assess their likely impact on the region's policy agenda moving forward. Survey results will also be linked to the shifting demographic profile of the region to assess likely political effects from these changes.

Authors: Ruy Teixeira, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution; Joint Fellow, Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation; Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute