We've already covered the general pattern of Trump being more popular back East than out West, as well as the special case of Mormons in Idaho. So the results of tonight's kool-aid caucus in Utah should have come as no surprise.
They're the descendants of an apocalyptic cult that left behind their roots (families, home towns, and Christianity), followed a guru out West who wanted to build their own society outside of the United States (statehood only achieved decades later, after ending polygamy), and were globally rather than nationally oriented (not merely missionizing around the world, but actively seeking to bring them back here, so that Polynesian gangs are now a problem in Salt Lake City).
I've read a few people suggesting that if Trump were the Republican nominee, Utah might actually vote Democrat in the general. They've got 20% non-white population, which would go to the racial identity politics huckster, Hillary. Throw in the white liberals, and you're near 30%. And perhaps the Mormons will be so upset by Trump's show of "religious intolerance" -- freezing Muslim immigration for awhile -- since being a persecuted religious minority is a fundamental part of their identity. Add in their Saxon-Scandinavian aversion to straight talk, and you get a Minnesota of the Mountains attitude toward Trump's tone. Plus a sidelining of the culture war by the Trump movement, which is their main attraction to the Republican coalition.
Who knows how realistic that is? But let's just say that it happened, and was part of a broader realignment. Suppose the Republicans become the strong government party -- to keep companies from moving jobs out of the country, to regulate Wall Street back down to size, to defend the borders, to extricate ourselves from nation-building, and to re-build our own nation.
And suppose the Democrats become the small government party -- they've already got the "get the government out of the bedroom" lifestyle libertarianism, they would just have to absorb the Wall Street libertarians who don't want to be taxed or regulated. With Trump as the nominee, and Wall Street-owned Hillary as the alternative, libertarians would defect to the Democrats.
As for identity politics, suppose that the Republicans become the party that ignores the approach altogether, and focuses on practical matters. Then the Democrats would absorb the whole culture war, identity politics, values-voter crowd -- anyone who felt they were a misunderstood, persecuted, or aggrieved minority. That would include racial minorities with a chip on their shoulder, feminists, homos, and yes even the Mormons and other Judeo-LARP-ing Christian cultists (but not the Mainline or Catholic or back-East Southern Baptists).
If the realignment went roughly along those lines, then the new electoral map would roughly be split east-west at the Mississippi River.
Could the Trump-driven Republican Party secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency?
Not only could it win, it would do so handily. If the GOP got every state and DC east of the Mississippi, it would get 308 electoral votes, while the Democrats to the west would take only 230. That may sound shocking, considering the Dems would get both California and Texas, but there's just not that many people otherwise in the Plains, Mountains, and Pacific NW states. They were the last to be settled, after all.
Even if the Dems held on to all of New England and DC back East, that would still give the Party of Trump a narrow win with 272. The Republicans could even lose Florida permanently to the Dems, as long as they picked up all of New England in exchange, and eke out a victory with 276.
I don't imagine the map will realign that radically in a single election cycle, but the larger point remains: letting go of the Republican strongholds in the Plains and Mountain states would be a small price to pay, in order to gain the Rust Belt, Mid-Atlantic, and/or New England. They only joined the Republican coalition to chase their apocalyptic cult values, so there wouldn't be any great loss in terms of the goals that the winning Republicans back East would pursue.
Consider just the states where the Mormon presence is large enough to pull out of the GOP -- Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Those states offer a mere 13 electoral votes combined. If we could trade the Mormons for Michigan (16 votes), we would gain 3 electoral votes already. If that were emblematic of a broader realignment, we lose more states with small vote counts and bring on board states with yuge vote counts.
Before total realignment, let's say the Republicans keep Texas, but lost the rest of the Plains and Mountain states (Nevada going with the Pacific states). That would be a loss of 65 votes. But suppose that by shedding the apocalyptic culture war approach, and pursuing the Trump platform, we reliably gain the Great Lakes / Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (Indiana is already reliably Republican). That would be 84 votes, for a gain of 19. That's without even picking off some of the Mid-Atlantic and New England with a pragmatic nationalist platform.
Somehow the Republican leadership and electorate allowed itself to be increasingly marginalized so that its "bedrock" of support was small in electoral votes, and so out-there in culture war ideology and Wall Street-driven deregulation, that they basically gave up the Presidency. Romney and McCain flamed out big-time, and Bush Jr. just barely and questionably picked up the majority of electoral votes in 2000, while losing the popular vote. (His re-election was a given, during the War on Terror.) Dole and Bush Sr. lost pathetically in the '90s.
It's high time we retired the Plains and Mountain states as the stronghold of the Republican Party. Whoever out West wants to join in, is perfectly welcome -- Arizona looks like it would be the only state in those two regions that would be enthusiastically pro-Trump. But from now on, the bastion of the Trump-era GOP must be the Rust Belt, the South, and the Mid-Atlantic (plus either Florida or New England, though ideally both). It sounds a little odd, but it would be historical/core America, as opposed to transplant/frontier America. Makes sense to me -- and evidently to everyone back East, where Trump fever is catching on.