Utah’s voters, on the whole, are more centrist socially and economically than the stereotypical view of where they come down on the political matrix. However, Utah’s Republicans and Democrats are mirror opposites on those issues.
Andrew Gelman at FiveThirtyEight.com used data from a 2000 Annenberg survey to determine the average social and economic ideology of each state. In the graph below, Utah is closer to the center, but falls toward the economic and social conservative areas of the matrix. It’s kinda hard to see, but Utah is in the upper right quadrant just to the right of Ohio.
If you break the states out by party leanings, it’s quite striking to see that Utah’s Republicans and Democrats are nearly mirror opposites. Republicans fall at about 0.2 on the social scale and 0.15 on the economic axis. Democrats fall right about -0.2 on the social scale and a bit more liberal than -0.15 on the economic scale.
So, why isn’t Utah more centrist on the overall scale? Most of Utah’s Independent voters are more likely to skew to the Republican side. There are simply more Republicans, which pushes Utah to the right.