50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 44. Wyoming

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

44. Wyoming

Capital: Cheyenne

Nickname: Equality State

Motto: Equal Rights

About the State

Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the US and, with fewer than 600,000 residents, the least populated of the fifty.  Before the arrival of people from Europe, the region was home to Native Americans from various tribes including the Cheyenne, Crow and Sioux.  In the early 19th century, the Lewis and Clark expedition entered the area and one member of that group, John Clayton, is thought to be the first white person to have visited what is now Yellowstone National Park, though at the time his descriptions of thermal activity in the region were thought to be fictional.  Much of the early activity in the area was of pioneers passing through on the Oregon trail; prospectors heading to states where gold had been discovered, like California, Colorado or Montana; and also Mormons en route to Utah.  In 1865, the Battle of Tongue River – part of an ongoing conflict between the United States and Native Americans – was fought in Sheridan County and effectively completed the Powder River Expedition, a military operation by the US to quell uprisings from the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapho tribes, following the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado.

The population increased significantly after the Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged settlers to locate there to take advantages of the fertile ground for agriculture and space for open range cattle raising; and also following the extension of the Union Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne in 1867.  The following year, the Wyoming Territory was organised by Congressional Act and Yellowstone was designated as the nation’s first National Park in 1872.  Unlike its neighbours, Wyoming never experienced a population boom from a discovery of precious metals like gold within its borders and it was not until July 10th, 1890, that it became the 44th state of the Union.

Wyoming is the second least densely populated state – behind only Alaska – with an average of only 5.85 people per square mile.  There are no “Big Four” sports teams located there and no President or Vice-President has been born there, though VP Dick Cheney did attend High School in Casper.  The state’s economy is based around tourism, with more than six million people each year visiting places like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks; the mining of coal, natural gas and crude oil; as well as agriculture, with 91% of the land in Wyoming being designated as rural and its major output being beef.  As a territory, Wyoming was the first in the United States to give women the vote, doing so in 1870, and it was also the first state to elect a female Governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in 1925.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 3

2008 Result: McCain 65.2% Obama 31.7%

Latest Poll: No Recent Poll

Wyoming has gone to the Republican Candidate in 14 of the last 15 Presidential elections and this November it is so certain to go to Governor Romney, that they are not even bothering to do polls there.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Wyoming this year, with Sen. John Barrasso (R) seeking re-election for a full term, after winning a special ballot in 2008 following the death of  Sen. Craig Thomas.  Barrasso’s opponent will be the Democratic Party candidate, Tim Chesnut, but in this GOP stronghold, there is no chance of the Republican being beaten.

There is one at-large district for Wyoming in the House of Representatives and the seat is currently held by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), who will win a third term over her Democratic Party opponent, Chris Henrichsen.

Ballot Measures: There is a measure to amend the Constitution of Wyoming in response to the Affordable Care Act, proposing that no person shall be compelled to obtain health care in the state.

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