Brookings: Mountain West Is America's Next Swing Region

By Peter O'Dowd
March 19, 2012

Vote 2012

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PHOENIX -- The shifting demographics of the Mountain West could have long-term effects on national and local politics, according to a report and book by the Brookings Institution.

As the West becomes more diverse than ever, it's also increasingly urban. The majority of Arizona's population lives in the metropolitan area in and around Phoenix.

The same goes for Clark County, in Nevada. It's home to Las Vegas, and houses more than 70 percent of that state's population, according to University of Nevada, Las Vegas Political Scientist David Damore.

Photo courtesy Brookings Institution.
The cover of the book "America's New Swing Region".

"The big issue is the traditional view of these Mountain West states is as overwhelmingly white and rural," Damore said. "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."

These characteristics include states like Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Because of the changes, Brookings is calling the Mountain West America’s new swing region. An urban and more diverse electorate will make the area more hospitable to Democrats this election season and beyond, Damore said.

Meanwhile, rural constituents in the West will increasingly struggle to have their voices heard in state legislatures across the region, he added.