Are Latter-day Saints More Republican Because of Where We Live?

“Democrat Mormon” per Dalle-3

“Republican Mormon” per Dalle-3

I’ve always had this hypothesis in the back of my mind that Latter-day Saints actually aren’t as politically red as we might think, and that some of our Republican-ism is an artifact of the fact that we live in Republican areas. If Latter-day Saints all lived in, say, Manhattan they’d be liberal, if they all lived in Alabama they’d be conservative.

I finally got around to running the numbers, and it looks like no, we actually are just very Republican.

**Wonk start**

I used the 2022 Comprehensive Election Study data to test the mediating effect of geography on the Latter-day Saint coefficient in a logit model for predicting whether somebody self-identified as a Republican. Below are the regression analyses. As seen, it barely moved the Latter-day Saint coefficient at all. Additionally, switching out Republican for Independent yields insignificant results (not shown), so we’re actually not any more likely to be Independents. So at least at this 30,000 foot view, there isn’t evidence for much of an anti-Trump, disgusted former-Republican Latter-day Saint effect.

**Wonk end**

So hypothesis rejected. We really are just Republican, and not just because we happen to largely live in the non-urban West. In this sample about 31% of the respondents identified as Republican when presented with the options of Republican, Democrat, Independent, and Other, whereas for Latter-day Saints it was 51%.


df <- read_dta(“~/Desktop/CCES22_Common_OUTPUT_vv_topost.dta”)

df$LDS<-ifelse(df$religpew==3, 1, 0)

df$Republican<-ifelse(df$CC22_433a==2 ,1, 0)

df$Independent_Other<-ifelse((df$CC22_433a==3) | (df$CC22_433a==4) ,1, 0)

modelX<-glm(df$Independent_Other~df$Republican + df$LDS, family=”binomial”, weights=df$commonweight) model1<-glm(df$Republican~df$LDS, family=”binomial”, weights=df$commonweight)

model2<-glm(df$Republican~df$LDS + as.factor(df$inputstate),family=”binomial”, weights=df$commonweight) stargazer(model1, model2, type = “html”, out = “~/Desktop/regression_RepublicanID.html”, digits = 1, star.cutoffs = c(0.05, 0.01, 0.001))

****Addendum from comments below.

df <- read_dta(“dataverse_files/cumulative_2006-2022.dta”)

df$LDS<-ifelse(df$religion==3, 1, 0)

#For some reason “Don’t know” only has n=3, remove for now.

df$pid7[df$pid7 == 9] <- NA

MoSample<-subset(df, LDS==1)

X<-round(crosstab(df = MoSample, x = year, y = pid7, weight = weight_cumulative),0)

write.xlsx(X, “/Desktop/MoStats.xlsx”)

MoSample$BeforeTrump<-ifelse(MoSample$year<2016, 1, 0)

Y<-round(crosstab(df = MoSample, x = BeforeTrump, y = pid7, weight = weight_cumulative),0)

write.xlsx(Y, “Desktop/MoStats_Dich.xlsx”)

11 comments for “Are Latter-day Saints More Republican Because of Where We Live?

  1. I’ve always assumed that too, and I was stunned to find that it’s wrong. Stunned enough that I had to reproduce it, and pretty much did.

    I presume you used the Cooperative Election Study (not Comprehensive) at, in particular And then you did something that lost about 850 observations? I didn’t get your exact numbers as a result, but the key finding that the effect of being LDS is not reduced by controlling for state remains. I did get a little movement after controlling for education, gender, and age (and then adding state), but not much.

    The effect of Utah does change when you add LDS to the model. :)
    One quibble though: “there isn’t evidence for much of an anti-Trump, disgusted former-Republican Latter-day Saint effect.” To test that you’d have to see how the effect of being LDS changed from, say, 2014 to 2022. On the other hand, given how strongly Latter-day Saints have historically identified as Republican, I think you’re more likely to see them still identifying with the GOP even if they don’t support Trump. At least for now.

  2. That’s fair re the anti-Trump effect. I was thinking IF Latter-day Saints are politically homeless because of Trump, THEN we’d expect to see them more likely to be independents, when you’re right that if we’re looking at a shift from GOP to independent because of Trump we’d have to look at it across time.

    Incidentally your question sent me down another rabbit hole, and I looked at LDS political affiliation before (>2016) and after Trump. I’ve posted it above. It does look like there’s some liberalization going on, but of course without a super deep dive it’s hard to know whether that was happening beforehand anyway, or whether there’s a knot in the trendline that suggests that Trump had something to do with it.

  3. Latter-day Saints living in states outside the Intermountain West may still have their roots there (parents, grandparents, etc.) and this may help to explain why we may not be seeing less Republicans in the church outside of the Jell-O Belt. It’s because in many ways, it’s still part of the Jell-O Belt diaspora.

  4. humgrad: That’s almost certainly part of what’s happening. I used to think there was a selection effect, with the more Democrat members opting to leave Utah, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s not true either.

  5. Politics do tend to be handed down from generation to generation. I knew a political science professor who liked to ask descendants of German immigrants to Wisconsin when their ancestors arrived in the state, and then tell them which political party they belonged to. Apparently there were two main waves immigration in the 1800s, both triggered by political unrest in Germany, with the losers fleeing to the US. But in the first wave the conservatives won and the liberals fled, and in the second the liberals won and the conservatives fled. A century and a half later, their descendants generally have the same politics as their immigrant ancestors.

    This is actually one of my mental tools for dealing with political differences at church: remembering that if I’d had their parents I’d probably have their politics, and vice versa. (Another is remembering we can believe all the same things and choose different priorities for what government should act on, per President Oaks in .)

  6. I’d like to see some data before drawing any conclusions about “parent to child” politics.

    I was more liberal than my parents, same pattern with most of my friends, so based on my experience–casual empiricism–I’d draw the opposite conclusion.

    Perhaps the ’60s were an anomoly; it might be that during quiescent periods, children take up their parents’ politics more often than they do during periods of change.

  7. I’m a socialist, mostly inactive in the Church. I have twin sons. Identical genes and environmental influences (Utah County) until they were 19, and one went to southern Philippines on his mission, the other to south Florida. Both graduated from BYU. One settled in the East and the other in Utah County. One is a conservative Republican, the other a moderate Democrat. The one in the East (south Florida mission) is the Republican. Draw whatever conclusions you like.

  8. Re RLD and Fred’s point: I believe partisan identification has both a parent and a cohort effect. They aren’t mutually exclusive; people’s political affiliation can be correlated with their parents’ while it can also be correlated with their age, or being in a cohort that passed through a particular event. Both are parameters in the equation that add up to what your partisan affiliation is.

  9. Absolutely. Cohort effects tend to get the most attention in the media because they have the potential to change the political equilibrium, but there’s a lot more going on and those cohort effects don’t always play out as anticipated (see “The Emerging Democratic Majority”).

Comments are closed.