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Why Mormon voters are in the GOP spotlight
Senator Ted Cruz, greets supporters following a Senator Mike Lee Rally in Draper Utah, at the American Preparatory Academy Saturday, March 19, 2016. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Donald Trump doesn't seem to have many Mormon fans. The Republican frontrunner was handily beaten by Ted Cruz in Tuesday's Utah caucus, receiving only 14 percent of votes and zero delegates.

"Utah proved to be the ideal state to put at least a temporary brake on the Trump coronation," The New Yorker reported.

These results, as well as polls conducted before Tuesday's vote, have thrown members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the GOP spotlight. They've rejuvenated Republicans who are exasperated by the ongoing primary and inspired several articles about Trump's failure to court them.

"Mormons, who compose more than 60 percent of the population of Utah, are among the most reliably Republican constituencies in America. In four of the last five presidential elections, Utah has been the state that delivered the greatest margin of victory for the Republican nominee," The New Yorker reported.

This election may disrupt that legacy. A Deseret News and KSL poll, conducted March 8-15, found Utahns would be more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, than elect Trump as president. That would be a first since Lyndon Johnson carried Utah in 1964.

Around 6-in-10 Utah voters, LDS and non-LDS alike, said honesty and integrity are the most important personal characteristics they seek in candidates, according to the poll.

Additionally, "the most religiously active voters (are) more likely to choose civility and respect or family values as a top concern," the Deseret News reported.

As a result, Mormons reject Trump's crudeness and his unkind words toward religious minorities, as recent articles from The Week, BuzzFeed News and Religion News Service highlighted, adding that Mormons also disagree with Trump's stance on immigration and frown upon his self-aggrandizement.

"Plenty of conservatives claim to care about the character of those who seek the highest office in the land, but Latter-day Saints really mean it," The Week's Damon Linker wrote.

McKay Coppins, senior political reporter for BuzzFeed News and a Mormon, wrote of Trump: "His blatant religious illiteracy, his penchant for onstage cursing, his habit of flinging crude insults at women, his less-than-virtuous personal life and widely chronicled marital failures all of this is anathema to the wholesome, family-first lifestyle that Mormonism promotes."

In short, Mormon voters have done what GOP leaders expected evangelical voters, a key voting bloc, to do: Shut down Trump.

The Week's coverage suggested that Republicans should be wishing for more Mormons in their ranks, even if that can't actually be arranged.

"Two problems with the Grand Plan to bring down Trump using Mormon Power: The LDS are a tiny minority in the rest of the country, and Mormon-heavy states command a mere 101 delegates among them," the article noted. "The GOP needs more Mormons! Which is, of course, impossible on such short notice."
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