Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whence conservatism?

So Mormons are of great interest to political reporters here in the United States right now, what with a Mormon locked in a tight race for a major-party presidential nomination and all. One thing that’s frequently been reported is the result of an opinion poll that (supported the conventional wisdom and) found that a majority of Mormons self-describe* as conservative, and only a tiny sliver as liberal.** This leads to a bunch of assumptions about Mormons and their political leanings—but i’m wondering if this isn’t getting the causality precisely backwards.

I mean, a whole bunch of Mormons are from the central Rocky Mountain region, and that’s a pretty conservative region—even states there where Mormons don’t hold a majority (as they do in Utah) are pretty intensely conservative.† So is it that Mormons are generally conservative, or is it that people from the central Rocky Mountain region are generally conservative, and the Mormons from there†† are just along for the ride?

I’m thinking the latter, myself.

* It’s rarely clear whether these surveys mean to measure political, social, economic, or whatever attitudes, and that bugs me.

** That is, “liberal” in the United States sense, not the rest-of-the-English-speaking-world sense.

† In fact, i’d argue that Utah has only the third-most conservative electorate in the region, following Idaho and Wyoming.

†† And very specifically from there, not just living there—i’d expect Mormons from, say, Pocatello, Idaho to be likely to lean right, even if they happened to be living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I've also noticed that UT Mormons are a different kind of conservative. My liberal (in UT) friend would be considered conservative if she came to MD with no change in her political and social leanings. TBH, some conservative Utahns scare me. And I'm conservative. In Maryland.