Ted Wilson will be Utah's next governor and Michael Dukakis will be the next president of the United States, two Utah State University political scientists cautiously predict.
Mike Lyons and Peter Galderisi predict that even though they believe the West is increasingly Republican.Both Lyons and Galderisi are realignment scholars, meaning they see a changing political emphasis in the West. They are co-editors of a book called "Politics of Realignment," which traces the Western trend toward Republicanism in the past 30 years.
"We have been arguing that the Democratic Party has lost its majority status in the Mountain West and that it's in jeopardy of losing its majority status nationally," says Lyons, who served as a Utah delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.
As far as Utah's November election, "It's obviously Ted Wilson's election to lose," says Galderisi.
While on the surface this might go against the idea of an increasingly Republican electorate in the region, Galderisi predicts a Wilson victory because of what he believes Utahns will be voting against - high taxes and the Great Salt Lake pumping project - represented in the person of Norm Bangerter.
"Merrill Cook is actually a handicap to Ted Wilson in the sense that there are people who are voting for Cook who would have voted for Ted Wilson. They would have preferred not to because he's a Democrat, and now Cook gives them an outlet," says Galderisi.
Both expect Cook's popularity to hover approximately where polls say it is now, 12-15 percent of the vote. "Merrill Cook is a one-issue candidate. I think he's more multi-dimensional than that, but as far as the voters are concerned, he's the tax protest," says Galderisi.
As far as the presidential race is concerned, both predict a Dukakis victory, despite a national trend toward Republicanism.
"I think the 1988 election is an important test of the relative strength of the parties. If the Republicans win the 1988 presidential election, it suggests that a national Republican majority may finally be emerging, because if they can win with George Bush, they can win with anybody," says Lyons.
"What happens in this election depends on what Jesse Jackson's people do," says Galderisi.
He says the key to a Dukakis victory is getting the several million voters who registered to vote for Jackson in the primaries to come out to vote for Dukakis in the fall.
He adds that Dukakis may have made a mistake in not choosing Jackson for his running mate, because the votes he might have lost would have been more than compensated for by the guarantee of Jackson's supporters.
"The Democrats can't win the South without black votes, and if they lose white votes because of Jackson's leadership role in the party and lose black votes because Jackson's not on the ticket, there's no way they can win the election," he says.