PRINCETON, N.J. (Christian Examiner) -- The most right-leaning states in the union are Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana according to a Gallup review of responses by more than 177,000 adults averaging 46-49 percent of residents who identified as politically conservative.
Those three states -- Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana -- also were among the top ten most religious states in another Gallup study.
Ideological bent in the most conservative study was determined by the self-descriptions of "very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal."
The two conservative categories were collapsed into one and the two liberal groupings were combined.
Massachusetts, Vermont and Hawaii were the most left-leaning, with 30 percent of residents in each of those states choosing the label "liberal" or "very liberal."
In the Gallup study of most religious states eight of the top ten conservative states also were among the top ten most religious states. In fact, the top four states, with some differences in the relative rankings, were the same in both lists:
-- Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, and Louisiana were the four most religious.
-- Utah followed Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana as the fourth most conservative state in the latest study.
Similarly, six of the most liberal-leaning states also were among the ten least religious. The states on both lists include Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut.
South Dakota, Montana and Texas have dropped out of the top ten conservative states since the first study in 2008, but conservatives maintain at least a 21 point margin over liberals in each.
Regarding liberals, Gallup said, "eight of the top 10" in 2014 "were on the top 10 list for 2013." Connecticut and Maryland "replaced Delaware and Maine, which appeared in the top 10 in 2013. The only two states in the top 10 most liberal list this year that were not in the top 10 in 2008 are Maryland and New Jersey, and in that year, they came in ranked just below the top 10."
Generally, ideological identity has remained essentially stable among the states from 2008 through 2014, according to Gallup. "The most conservative states both seven years ago and now are mainly located in the South and the Mountain West, while the most liberal states are basically located along the East and West Coasts."
However, the public opinion tracker also said "there can be significant differences" in more specific ideological positioning not captured in this analysis. For instance some may be "conservative or liberal on economic matters, while holding the opposite position on social matters."
But, the results "roughly conform" with the political orientation that Gallup has measured about states from election results, and "the order is similar to Gallup's state rankings of presidential job approval and political party identification."