Brookings: Mountain West to swing national politics

March 19, 2012

The shifting demographics of the Mountain West could have long-term effects on national and local politics. A new report by the Brookings Institution shows the identity of the region is changing.

PETER O’DOWD: The West is more diverse than ever. It’s also increasingly urban. The Brookings Institution says those characteristics are a departure for states like Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. David Damore is a political scientist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and a co-author of the report.

DAVID DAMORE: The big issue is the traditional view of these Mountain West states as overwhelmingly white rural states, but the reality is you now have some of the most demographically diverse states and some of the most densely populated spaces in the whole country. 

O’DOWD: Brookings is calling the Mountain West America’s new swing region. That means an urban and more diverse electorate will make the area more hospitable to Democrats this election season and beyond. Meanwhile, Damore says rural constituents in the West will increasingly struggle to have their voices heard in state legislatures across the region. 

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