Utah’s Millennials Show Contrasts with Earlier Generations in Politics, Values

Although Utah is more politically conservative than the rest of the nation, Utah’s Millennials follow national trends of being less likely to identify with either major political party than older generations. 

Millennials (born 1981 – mid-2000’s) and Gen Xers (1965-1980) are more likely to say they support gay rights.  But they are less likely to describe themselves as environmentalists, religious or patriotic than members of the Baby Boom (1946-1964) and Silent (1928-1945) generations.

Those are among the results of a survey done for the Utah Foundation by Lighthouse Research.  More than 1,300 residents of Utah were asked about their views for the four-part report Millennials and Boomers: How Utah’s Generations Compare to Each Other and the Nation.  The first three parts looked at demographic characteristics of Utah’s generational cohorts, their views on jobs and economic issues and housing. The final segment looks at their political views and civic values.

Key findings include –

  • Utahns across all generations identified more strongly with being religious and patriotic than their national peers, while still following national trends of younger generations identifying less strongly than older generations with both characteristics.
  • Although the percentage of Millennial and Gen X Utahns who described themselves as supporters of gay rights was higher than older generations, Latter-Day Saints across all generations had a very similar level of support (15-20%).
  • Utahns put far more importance on being leaders in their communities than their national peers, with similar importance seen across all generations.
  • While Utahns were far more likely than their national peers to identify as Republicans, the national trend of younger generations being less likely than older generations to identify as Republican held true in Utah.
  • Political party affiliation of Utah women across all generations was correlated with their marital status. Over half of married Utah Millennial women were Republican compared to one-third of unmarried Millennial women.
  • Although survey respondents overestimated their levels of voter registration and participation, national trends were reflected in Utah’s younger generations which were less likely than older generations to be registered to vote and to have voted in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

Utah Foundation Research Analyst Mallory Bateman was surprised at how Utah’s generations reflected national trends. “Despite the fact that Utah is a pretty unique place, the shifts in attitudes between older and younger generations seen nationally were also seen in Utah to varying degrees.” Bateman says, “Utahns are more likely to describe themselves as religious or patriotic people than our national counterparts, but younger generations are also more likely to support gay rights or lean moderate or liberal politically.”


Respondents were also asked about the importance of living a religious life.  Research Analyst Christopher Collard says one clear difference between Utahns and the rest of the country emerged. “Across the country, people ranked its importance somewhere in the middle.  Here in Utah, respondents tended toward the extremes, with living a religious life ranked either as extremely important or completely unimportant. Younger generations place less importance on living a religious life and the number of Millennials identifying with no religion at all is also growing.”


The four-part series Millennials and Boomers: How Utah’s Generations Compare to Each Other and the Nationis available on the Utah Foundation website: http://www.utahfoundation.org/reports/millennials-and-boomers-politics-and-society-part-iv/