SALT LAKE CITY — Using data compiled from its 2009 surveys, the Gallup Poll has confirmed what some have long seen as an honor and others as a criticism — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprise the most conservative of the major religious groups in the United States.
Of the Mormon adults surveyed last year, 59 percent identified themselves as conservative, 31 percent as moderate and only 8 percent as liberal. That's nearly a third more conservatives than the second-highest percentage —?the 46 percent of self-identified Protestants and non-Catholic Christians who see themselves as conservatives.
Conservatives made up 39 percent of Catholics, 23 percent of Muslims, 20 percent Jews, 20 percent other non-Christian religions and 19 percent of those who identified themselves as atheist/agnostic/nonreligious.
With LDS Church members comprising just under 2 percent of the U.S. adult population, small survey samples often make it difficult to provide precise national analysis regarding LDS Church members.
But Gallup's findings and data — released Monday — are based on the more than 350,000 Gallup Daily phone interviews conducted last year nationally with adults over the age of 18, including 5,819 respondents of the Mormon faith.
Gallup said of the LDS members surveyed, 16 percent considered themselves very conservative, 43 percent conservative, 7 percent liberal and 1 percent very liberal.
The "most-conservative ranking" coincides with a similar Gallup Poll released last year that showed more members of the LDS Church members identify themselves with the Republican Party than any other major U.S. religious group.
Coupling the two designations together, 49 percent of the Mormons surveyed labeled themselves both conservative and Republican; the next highest conservative/Republican percentage being the Protestant/non-Catholic Christians at 31 percent.
Besides the highest percentage of conservative Republicans, Gallup's LDS respondents had the survey's lowest percentages of liberal and moderate Democrats — 5 and 12 percent, respectively. Another 5 percent identified themselves as conservative Democrats, 11 percent as purely independent and 16 percent either moderate or liberal Republicans.
Gallup also provided political ideology comparisons for LDS respondents based on church activity as well as residence inside or outside the state of Utah.
Those who Gallup labeled "active Mormons" were much more likely to also identify themselves as conservative. The active Mormon respondents included 65 percent conservative, 29 percent moderate and 5 percent liberal, while the "lapsed Mormons" included 36 percent who identified themselves as conservative, 41 percent moderate and 20 percent liberal.
The latter group is close to that of all other Americans — 38 percent conservative, 37 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal.
Gallup reported that 34 percent of the adult LDS Church population resides in Utah, but place of residence resulted in little difference in political ideology.
Also, while regular church attendance for Mormons in states outside of Utah was slightly lower than that in Utah, those numbers were still significantly higher than the national averages.