Redistricting Process: Legislative Population Change (since 2000): 530,716
Legislature: Republican Seats: 4 (+1 from 2010)
Governor: Gary Herbert (R) Members of Congress: 3R, 1D
Party Control: Republican 2012: 24.9% Obama, 72.8% Romney

Map Instructions:

Three maps are available for each state. Each has new district outlines in bold.
Click on each district on the map to see more information.
Click the arrow button to switch between districts that are close together.
New Districts by Party Representation

Redistricting Analysis: Utah Increases to Five Seats

2010 Redistricting Changes:

Old Districts by Partisan Voting Index with New District Outlines
Old Districts by Party Representation with New District Outlines

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Utah grew over twice as fast as the national average at 23.7%. That population increase was enough to justify giving the state additional political representation, and thus, another congressional seat. The news came as a relief to residents who recall that a decade earlier Utah missed adding a seat by only 857 people. The addition of another district has also complicated the State’s redistricting process. Under the Utah Constitution, all congressional districts must fulfill six new requirements, the most important being that population deviations between districts cannot be greater than .1%. After adding a district, the population of each Utah district has actually shrunk, decreasing from an ideal 744,390 in 2001 to 690,971 in 2011. Another requirement, however, is more open interpretation: “Districts will be contiguous and reasonably compact.” Because the state has such varied population density, passing maps which kept districts in line with these two requirements has proved tricky, even with Utah’s heavily Republican legislature. In Utah, congressional redistricting is treated as ordinary legislation. This means that the state legislature is responsible for proposing and passing a plan, which is then submitted to the governor for approval. In both the House and Senate, Republicans have an enormous majority, allowing them to override a veto easily. In the House, 58 of the 75 seats are held by Republicans. In the Senate, 22 of the 29 seats are held by Republicans. The subjective requirement that “Districts will be contiguous and reasonably compact” became a prime area of contention for the legislature, particularly because Salt Lake County.

While Utah is generally considered heavily Republican, Salt Lake City is not. The densely populated area, which experienced a 12% growth rate, leans Democratic. Additionally, the Salt Lake County is by far the most populous region in Utah, and is large enough to form its own district. If so, it would make the seat an easy win for Democrats, but almost guarantee a Republican victory in the other districts. If divided, Salt Lake City would make the other districts more competitive, at the expenses of a Democratically controlled seat. These legislative considerations for the Salt Lake region resulted in two different proposals, dubbed “Donut Maps” and the “Pizza Maps.”

The first category of maps, called the Donut Hole, gives the Salt Lake City region its own representative, surrounded by the other three districts. Utah is divided into highly populated metropolitan areas which are separated by rural expanses of land. The four most populous counties in Utah hold about 75% of the state’s total population and 83% of its Hispanic population. The Donut Hole proposal would delineate these different communities of interests. Ideally, this method would preserve the influence of rural communities, preventing their votes from being diluted by city residents. Unfortunately, the Donut Hole can also make districts less competitive, because communities of similar interests tend to vote for the same representatives. By contrast, the “Pizza Slice” maps divide the Salt Lake City region between the four districts, combining between rural and industrialized counties. A well designed map would cross county lines and ideally, make each district more competitive. Ultimately, Utah residents and the legislature favored the donut hole type maps, although disagreement continued about what would compose the Fourth District. Although the Salt Lake City region leans Democratic, nearby Utah County leans Republican.

On October 20, 2011, Governor Grey Herbert signed the finalized congressional maps. Predictably, Republicans pushed through a donut-hole map which made the Fourth District favorable to Republicans. The new map split Salt Lake County into three different counties. Such a cut had caused some to call foul. The Salt Lake City Tribune stated that “all with an eye to splitting up the votes of Democratic and independent voters and guaranteeing that Republicans will win all four seats in the next general election.” Democrats also criticized the maps, and even threatened to file suit against the commission. Despite such protestations, Utah’s new congressional districts were enacted and implemented in 2012.

First District

Congressional District One is located in the northern most part of Utah. It represents a combination of the old First and Second. While the First has lost the western counties of Toole and Juab, it has gained a number others in the east, like Duchesne, Uintah, and Daget Counties. The First is the only district which does not have a part of Salt Lake County. In comparison to the old first, the new district has shrunk in size, mostly to accommodate a smaller population. Like Utah itself, the district is divided between the rural portions, like Daget County, and more densely populated portions, like Box Elder and Weber County. The largest city in the first district is Ogden, with a population of 82,845. The city is known for its freight rail traffic, manufacturing, and commerce. Overall, however, the First District carries a population exactly matching the ideal.

District 1 has historically voted for conservative candidates. In 2004, President George Bush won 73% of the vote. In 2008, McCain won with 64% of the vote. The old First was considered one of the most conservative districts in the state, with a partisan voting index of R +21 in 2008. While the new district is, in many ways, different from its predecessor, it likely to still favor Republicans. Unitah and Dagget County, which the First now encompasses favored McCain by 83.1% and 67.7% respectively.

Second District

In contrast to the First District, which had minimal changes, the Second District is almost completely different. It is now composed of the old First, Second, and Third Districts. Geographically, the Second is the largest of any district, encompassing almost the entire western side of the state. It carries some of Utah’s most rural counties, like Iron, Wayne, and Beaver, while simultaneously holding Salt Lake City, by far the most populous city in the State. Of the districts ideal population of 690, 971, Salt Lake City alone contributes 186,443 residents, or nearly 30% of the total. The Second also holds the Eighth largest city in Utah, St. George, which has a population of 72,897. Together, St. George and Salt Lake City carry approximately 40 percent of the state’s population. The second district also has one of the faster growing Hispanic populations in the state. The Hispanic growth rate in Toole and Washington Counties were each greater than 40%. Despite the differing population, the Second District still learns republican.

Third District

Located in the south eastern portion of Utah, the Third District is home to Salt Lake, Grand, San Juan Counties, and more. Despite encompassing multiple counties, the Third draws most of its population from its partial holding of Utah and Salt Lake. Most of the district’s population is centered in the Utah and Salt Lake area. The largest city within the Third District is Provo, home of Bingham Young University and the third largest city in the state. Provo has a population of 112,488. The Third is divided between the fast moving, densely populated Salt Lake and Wasatch Counties, which have experienced explosive population growth. Between 2000 and 2010, the two counties, have increased in population by 40.2% and 54.7%, respectively. Wasatch in particular is one of Utah’s most unique counties, having experienced a Latino growth rate of 310.8%. In contrast, the remaining counties in the Third have had a growth rate significantly lower than the state average. Of these, Emery County, with a population increase of only 1.1%, is the lowest, closely followed by San Juan’s 2.3% and Grand County’s 8.7%.

Fourth District

Utah’s Fourth District is the smallest and most densely populated. It straddles the majority of the Wasatch Front, a heavily populated metropolitan region in Utah which accounts for 80% of the state’s population. The Fourth carries the majority of Salt Lake County, portions of Utah and Sanpete County, as well as Emery County. The Fourth is notable because its area has been home to considerable demographic changes. Between 2000 and 2010, Salt Lake County has experienced a Latino growth rate of 64.8%, compared to the otherwise slow 14.6% rate of normalized population growth. The Fourth also carries with it the majority of Utah’s largest cities. These include the second, fourth, and sixth largest cities in Utah. When taken together, the three cities of West Valley, West Jordan, and Sandy account for almost half of the county’s population. This means that the district’s interest is heavily tilted towards its northern regions, as opposed to its other holdings, which include parts of Juab and San Pete Counties.