Provo is popular for being a college city, but does the constant change in residents influence the voting patterns? There are many things to do and see in Provo, Utah, but are the residents conservative?
Provo, Utah, is one of the most conservative cities in the United States. This is shown in multiple surveys and through a long history of voting for conservative Republican candidates. Provo is located in Utah County, which is also notably conservative.
Provo is conservative, but what does its political history look like? And how will that history influence future voting patterns? Make sure to keep reading to find out more about Provo’s conservative nature!
Is Provo, Utah Liberal or Conservative?
Provo, Utah, is a very conservative city. More than that, it sits in one of the most conservative counties in the state and is one of the most conservative states in the United States of America. Provo has historically voted Republican and chosen more conservative candidates, even from among republicans.
The city is home to Brigham Young University, which is a private research university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. While many cities with universities lean a little more liberal, Brigham Young University is a dry campus that requires all students to live by a strict honor code. That atmosphere carries over to the surrounding community, where many of the residents are former students of the university themselves.
Is Provo Becoming More Liberal?
While remaining solidly in the red, Provo is becoming slightly more liberal. This might sound like more of a dramatic change than it is since Provo was very literally the most conservative city in the United States of America in 2005. Any slight change is going to pull it towards the liberal when the default is so conservative.
Changes from 2005 to 2021
In 2005, the Bay Area Center For Voting Research compared the results of the presidential election in 2004. Of the 237 cities with at least 100,000 residents, Provo won “most conservative” by a landslide the presidential election could only dream of. Even conservative Lubbock, Texas, was eleven points behind Provo.
Locals were surprised since the level of their conservative views is so normal for the area. To Provo residents, the area was comfortably conservative. It was a smaller city, predominately white, and predominately well educated, which are all common in a conservative city.
The only unusual factor was the number of low-income households, but that could easily be explained by the nearby university and the number of college students living off of financial aid and studying instead of working.
Some of these aspects have changed in the past decade and a half. Provo, like much of the Wasatch Front, has seen incredibly high inflation and unusually high numbers of new residents. As a local, I only hesitate to say “unprecedented” because the area was initially founded by the mass immigration of pioneers. It hasn’t quite reached that level of population increase yet.
This economic and demographic change has brought some diversity, but also heavily increased economic strain. Many people can no longer afford the cost of living, but also can’t move out of the area until they’ve finished school. Homelessness, drug abuse, and other community issues have pushed voters to turn to more moderate and even democratic representatives to reduce the strain.
LGBTQ+ Rights And Rallies
LGBTQ+ acknowledgment is increasing as the years go by. Every day, we see more and more rallies and support being put out there for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Conservative community members are learning to co-exist with less conservative neighbors, and some are even becoming friends. There are even many members of the LGBTQ community who identify as conservative, vote conservative or moderate, and are active members of more conservative religions popular in the area.
Most locals, both conservative and more liberal, agree that this is a positive change. As more allies are coming into play in Provo, we are seeing a united front in the streets of Provo during rallies. This is a change that, although Provo is mostly conservative, the people of Provo are happy to see because of the community aspect it gives its citizens.
The Housing Crisis
One of the current largest issues for Provo residents is the housing crisis. Housing inflation has been dramatic, making rent over double what it was five years ago in many neighborhoods and apartment complexes, and locals can’t keep up.
The cost of living, high inflation, and lack of affordable housing are pushing many historically conservative people to consider slightly more moderate or liberal solutions since previously comfortable families are now relying on welfare and food stamps to survive.
Basically, people are getting desperate for solutions. Local jobs don’t pay enough for people to make rent, and the lack of regulation is distressing for locals. Many students at the local universities have lived in Provo their whole lives, and they and their parents are reluctant for them to leave. The worse the situation gets, the more democratic solutions gain ground.
Dealing with Income Extremes
Income extremes are a top concern for many residents in Provo, but particularly for anyone who wants the area to stay conservative. Income extremes and higher poverty levels tend to push cities toward democratic candidates and the solutions they offer since these solutions are often targeted toward families who are trying to survive.
Provo is a city facing this situation right now. As the income extremes get wider and the cost of living, housing, and transportation get higher, the votes are sliding slightly towards more liberal solutions and candidates. Situations like homelessness aggravate the situation and strain city resources, leading to more stress for everyone involved.
However, the city as a whole is still firmly in the red and even areas that do vote more liberal are only more liberal by a small margin. Nobody expects the vote to shift significantly towards the blue, the city is still miles away from even approaching a genuinely liberal vote or candidate.
Are Provo, Utah Residents Nice to Liberal People?
The residents of Provo are not generally unkind to more liberal neighbors, but they are known to make things a little uncomfortable for them. New residents of majority-white neighborhoods have reported hearing comments about diversity indicating the neighborhood was going downhill or becoming more dangerous. While people are rarely unkind to your face, some Provo residents can be very passive-aggressive.
If someone is used to a more moderate, liberal, or diverse city, the culture shock can be intense. Same-sex couples and other minority groups might get uncomfortable looks and comments when walking through some neighborhoods, shopping in some stores, or eating at restaurants. The locals don’t always regret making things uncomfortable, either.
Students who move from more liberal areas will face unique challenges in school. Questions about race, LGBTQ+ issues, and other topics of conversation that are considered acceptable in many areas will often be shut down in Provo, and students who are part of a minority group frequently report bullying. Treatment of new students can fall to extremes.
On the other hand, Provo residents can be extremely nice to new neighbors. They may go the opposite direction and try to compensate for a bad reputation by inviting new residents to dinner and trying to be friendly. This might be alarming for people coming from more socially conservative areas, but is endearing if you accept the greeting at face value.
Are There Liberal Cities in the Surrounding Area?
Provo is staunchly conservative, as are many of the cities in the surrounding county and the rest of the state, but there are more liberal cities nearby. Salt Lake City, Utah, is actually surprisingly liberal. Conservatives living in Provo will have no trouble avoiding their liberal neighbor up the valley, but liberal residents of Provo will be happy to know that they can visit a city within an hour’s drive that can help them feel more at home.
Salt Lake City, Moab, and Park City are three liberal areas near Provo. Although the drive is typically at least one hour and up to four hours for most tourism to liberal areas, this makes events like Pride Parades or Juneteenth celebrations more accessible. Nearby cities have African Festivals and clubs that make the area comfortable and inclusive for less-conservative Utahns.
In summary, there are Liberal cities in the surrounding area. They are far enough away that conservative residents will feel comfortable, but close enough that more liberal residents won’t feel isolated. The balance is as comfortable as a new resident could hope for.
Life as a Local
As someone who has grown up around Provo and plans to move back, it is far from a bad place to live. It’s a city where you’d feel comfortable raising small children and it has a lot of resources for individuals and families.
It might be changing, but the changes aren’t making the locals too uncomfortable. It’s just making it easier for new friends to move into the city. Provo is approved by the locals.