The Most Liberal States: Conservatives Beware

Red State, Blue State: Worst-Case Locales for Conservative Voters

Santa Monica, California, waterfront and pier, overview

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Our list of the most conservative states to live and work featured states favorable to people who enjoy greater liberties, educational choice, right-to-work status, and religious freedom. These states often had more regulations and higher taxes. While we're not suggesting that conservatives should or should not stake their claims in these liberal bastions, it's a good bet that a strong sense of humor—and a lot of patience—will be a requirement for setting up residence.


Where does one start with California? The state that once elected Ronald Reagan as Governor and voted for him as President has become one of the premier destinations for testing out liberal ideas. Often perceived as a safe-haven for undocumented aliens, California prohibits the use of e-verify unless mandated by federal law. From being forced to paint your roof white to city bans on plastic bags, California also has a regulation for pretty much every environmental concern you might imagine—and probably some you can't.

The economic downside to what some might term liberal overreach is that the state's out-of-control bureaucracy and outlandish taxpayer-paid pension packages have in the past steered multiple cities into bankruptcy and left the state as a whole teetering on the brink of financial ruin. Residents also enjoy the fourth highest individual tax burden in the country.


Sixty-seven percent of Vermont voters chose Barack Obama in 2012, and cast 71% of their votes for self-described Democratic Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016. While conservative states typically have right-to-work laws, Vermont went the opposite direction and passed a "fair share" law that forces non-union workers to pay union dues. The state also has some of the highest corporate, individual, and property tax rates in the nation.

Ironically, Vermont does get high marks on Second Amendment and gun rights issues. Without no major city center in the state, Vermont doesn't have to deal with the crime, violence, or gangs that most states do. As a result, it usually gets high marks from gun-rights advocates as being Second Amendment friendly.

New York

Every two years, researchers associated with George Mason University release a ranking of personal and economic freedoms. New York ranked dead last on the list after factoring in all the "freedom" categories including levels of taxation, gun rights, right-to-work status, government debt/spending, personal and business regulations, criminal laws, and "sin" freedoms/regulations on tobacco, alcohol, and gambling. Not surprisingly, the rest of the states on this list shared bottom honors with New York, while the most conservative states landed near the top of the freedom chart.

Rhode Island

In 2013, Rhode Island was ranked the third worst state to make a living by MoneyRates, and had the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.9%. The state opposes expanded school choice options, choosing instead to protect public education. In 2013, gay marriage was legalized. Rhode Island is also big on sin taxes, ranking second in their willingness to tax anything they can find an excuse to tax.


Maryland is one of the fastest growing liberal states. A 2013 article in The Washington Post noted that the "governor and his allies have imposed tax increases, repealed the death penalty, and approved a system to provide more than $1 billion in subsidies to a potential offshore wind farm." In addition, the state has legalized gay marriage, pushed for major gun restrictions, and started allowing illegal aliens to collect some government benefits.

It's always easier to make a state more liberal than it is to make one more conservative. It's easier to pass new laws and regulations than it is to stop them. It's especially difficult to end laws when they either pay out generously to certain voting constituencies or provide cash flow to grease the wheels of government spending. In 2014, however, Maryland actually elected a Republican Governor, so perhaps there is some hope for conservatives yet.

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Your Citation
Hawkins, Marcus. "The Most Liberal States: Conservatives Beware." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Hawkins, Marcus. (2020, October 29). The Most Liberal States: Conservatives Beware. Retrieved from Hawkins, Marcus. "The Most Liberal States: Conservatives Beware." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).