Nevada’s Religious Landscape, 2007 vs. 2015
The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated in Nevada
Between 2007 and 2015, the largest change in the Nevada religious landscape has been an increase in the proportion of religiously unaffiliated residents. Today, three in ten (30%) Nevadans are religiously unaffiliated, an eight percentage-point increase from 2007. The religiously unaffiliated are currently the largest “religious” group in state, overcoming Catholics who held that title in 2007.
While the proportion of white Christians has declined in the country overall, it has remained relatively steady in Nevada. Today, four in ten (40%) Nevadans are white Christian, down only two percentage points from 2007. The proportion of white evangelical Protestants (10%) and white Catholics (12%) have held steady. White mainline Protestants have seen a modest increase in their numbers, up from nine percent in 2007 to 13% today. The largest decreases were among Mormons, who have fallen by nearly half, from 11% in 2007 to six percent today.
The Religious Generation Gap in Nevada
Even though Nevada’s religious landscape has remained fairly stable over the past eight years, there are large generational differences within the state. The religious landscape for Nevadans under the age of 30 is the reverse of that for seniors (age 65 and older). More than seven in ten young Nevadans are either religiously unaffiliated (39%) or non-white Christian (32%); only 20% of young Nevadans are white Christians. In sharp contrast, more than six in ten (62%) Nevada seniors are white Christians. Only one in five (19%) Nevada seniors are religiously unaffiliated, and only 10% are non-white Christians.
Religion and Party Politics: Hispanic Christian Democrats and Mormon Republicans
The religious make-up of Nevada’s political parties largely mirrors that of the U.S. overall, with a few notable differences.
Nevada Democrats differ from Democrats overall in two ways: they are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated and more likely to be a Hispanic Christian. Nearly three in ten (29%) Nevada Democrats are religiously unaffiliated, compared to just under one-quarter (24%) of Democrats nationally. While Nevada Democrats have roughly the same proportion of non-white Christians as Democrats overall, the racial and ethnic make-up of these groups differ. In Nevada, a majority (51%) of non-white Christians are Hispanic Americans, while roughly one-third (35%) are black Americans. Nationally, these numbers are reversed: a majority (53%) of non-white Christian Democrats are black, while 36% are Hispanic.
Nevada Republicans are slightly more likely than Republicans overall to be religiously unaffiliated (17% vs. 11%, respectively), are about half as likely as Republicans overall to be white evangelical Protestant (18% vs. 35%, respectively), and are more than three times as likely to be “other white Christian,” due to the relatively large number of Mormons in the state.
Political and Ideological Change in Nevada
Nevadans’ political identification has been relatively steady over the past eight years. Today, almost four in ten (38%) Nevada residents are politically independent, while one-quarter (25%) are Republican, and 28% are Democratic.
Nevada residents have become more ideologically polarized in the past eight years: they are more likely to identify as conservative or liberal than moderate. Today, more than one-third (36%) of Nevadans identify as conservative, while roughly equal numbers identify as moderate (29%) or liberal (28%).