The Top 7 Conservative States in the U.S.

USA States Election Silhouette

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While there are plenty of red and red-leaning states in the U.S., a few are known for being especially conservative, including Tennessee, Louisiana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Texas. These states share many similarities: low taxes, low unemployment rates, limited business regulations, and right-to-work legislation (which bans union security agreements, thereby weakening the power of those organizations). Each state also has a history of conservative leadership and a culture that reflects traditional conservative values.

Key Takeaways

  • The most conservative states in the U.S. are known for their low tax rates and limited business regulations.
  • Other hallmarks of conservative states include low union membership, limited gun laws, and high religious participation.
  • In Mississippi, 50% of residents identify as conservative, making the state (by this metric) the most conservative in the U.S.


Neon signs on Lower Broadway (Nashville) at Night
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Tennessee has no state income tax and some of the lowest property taxes in the nation. The state offsets these low taxes with higher sales taxes, and as a result, a significant percentage of Tennessee's taxes are actually paid by nonresidents. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville are all popular tourist areas that help bring in out-of-state dollars. Tennessee is also a right-to-work state, and as of 2019, only 5.5% of its workers are members of a union. The state is known for its conservative culture, with 43% of residents identifying as conservative (the national average is 35%) and 49% identifying as "very religious."


Bourbon St, French Quarter, New Orleans
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The Pelican state has low personal income and sales taxes, making it a popular state for small business owners. Like Tennessee, Louisiana is a right-to-work state with low union membership. As of January 2020, the state unemployment rate was 5.3%, slightly lower than the national average. Louisiana has been a popular state for conservative initiatives such as education reform and business deregulation. Politically, the state leans to the right, with 43% of residents identifying as conservative and only 15% as liberal. Louisiana also has very limited gun laws; it allows open carry without a permit and does not require handguns or long guns to be registered with the state.


Drilling Fracking Rig Panoramic
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By polling alone, Wyoming is among the most conservative states in the nation, with 46% of residents identifying as conservative, compared with only 18% identifying as liberal. Like other conservative states, it has very low tax rates across the board, and 52% of Wyoming's revenue comes from nonresidents through taxes on mineral production. The state's economy is driven by oil and natural gas production, and the people consistently elect staunch conservatives to send to Washington. (Sen. John Barrasso, for example, is considered one of the most conservative in the Senate.) Conservatives also love this state because of the popularity of hunting—a $300 million industry in Western states that brings in plenty of out-of-state dollars. Low population density is also a draw for conservatives who prefer rural culture.

South Dakota

High Angle View Of Agricultural Field Against Sky in South Dakota

South Dakota has no state income or inheritance taxes, ranking it among the lower per capita state tax rates in the country. The sales tax rate is only 4.5%. Electorally, the state has been moving to the right over the last few decades. In 2004, Republican John Thune upset Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle, taking one of the state's Senate seats. Thune won reelection in 2010 and 2016. Very few of the state's residents identify as liberal—only 13%—while 44% identify as conservative. State politics are largely controlled by Republicans, and South Dakota has not elected a Democrat as governor since 1974. Business regulations in the state are very limited; in 2012, South Dakota ranked second on the Tax Foundation's list of the most business-friendly states.


Evening sunlight reflects off skyscrapers in downtown Dallas Texas

Like the other states on this list, Texas is known as a business-friendly environment (it gets a top-10 ranking from the Tax Foundation). A large part of the economy is devoted to oil and natural gas production, which has increased under the state's conservative leadership. Of the residents, 38% identify as conservative and only 20% say they're liberal. Texas has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1976 when Jimmy Carter won a narrow victory over Gerald Ford. In 2012, voters in the state delivered a big win for conservatism in the U.S. Senate by propelling Ted Cruz—a champion of government deregulation and a flat tax—to an easy victory. Texas has also produced such conservative leaders as President George W. Bush, Sen. Phil Gramm, and Gov. Rick Perry.

North Dakota

The Main Street of downtown Keystone, South Dakota
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Like its neighbor to the south, North Dakota has relatively low taxes, and as of 2020 the Tax Foundation rated the state as having the 16th best business climate. North Dakota has been very conservative since its inception when businessman John Miller was elected governor in 1889. The Republican Party has dominated the state's politics for more than half a century; the last Democratic governor was George A. Sinner, who served from 1985 to 1992. Residents are overwhelmingly conservative, with 39% identifying themselves in this category, compared with only 18% identifying as liberal.


St. Mary Basilica, Natchez, Mississippi
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Mississippi is known for its deeply religious, conservative culture. Polling shows that conservative views, including opposition to same-sex marriage, are even more common here than in other parts of the Deep South. Political opposition to social welfare has driven the state to make some cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicaid and food stamps; nevertheless, the state is one of the top recipients of federal aid. Mississippians are highly religious, with 59% of residents describing themselves as "very religious" and another 29% saying they are "moderately religious," making it the most religious state in the country, according to a 2017 Gallup survey. About half of residents attend religious services at least once a week, and three-quarters report that they pray daily. Since 1976, when the state voted for Jimmy Carter, Mississippi has not chosen a Democrat for president.

View Article Sources
  1. "Union Members—2019." Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 22 Jan. 2020.

  2. Jones, Jeffrey M. “Conservatives Greatly Outnumber Liberals in 19 U.S. States.”, Gallup, 8 Apr. 2020.

  3. Saad, Lydia. “U.S. Still Leans Conservative, but Liberals Keep Recent Gains.”, Gallup, 8 Apr. 2020.

  4. Duffin, Published by Erin, and Mar 11. “Religiosity in the United States in 2017, by State.” Statista, 11 Mar. 2020.

  5. Louisiana Economy at a Glance.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 31 Jan. 2020.

  6. "Take a Closer Look at Wyoming's Unstable Revenue Structure." Wyoming Taxpayers Association, 2018.

  7. Wildlife-Related Recreation in Western U.S. Provides Significant Economic Boost.” Southwick Associates, 25 Feb. 2019.

  8. "Tax Burden By State 2020." World Population Review.

  9. Sales & Use Tax.” South Dakota Department of Revenue.

  10. Walczak, Jared. “State Business Tax Climate Index.” Tax Foundation, 22 Oct. 2019.

  11. Ganucheau, Adam. “Poll: Conservative Views Still Dominate in Mississippi.” Mississippi Today, 12 Apr. 2018.

  12. Newport, Frank. “Mississippi Retains Standing as Most Religious State.”, Gallup, 6 Nov. 2017.

  13. Adults in Mississippi - Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics.” Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 11 May 2015.

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Hawkins, Marcus. "The Top 7 Conservative States in the U.S." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Hawkins, Marcus. (2021, July 31). The Top 7 Conservative States in the U.S. Retrieved from Hawkins, Marcus. "The Top 7 Conservative States in the U.S." ThoughtCo. (accessed August 3, 2021).