Politics increasingly plays into partner choices

By SARAH SNEBOLD and CHELSEA ANDERSON/Montana State News

According to a study done at Yale University, political views come into play when choosing a partner as often as factors such as education and race. The theories presented in the research suggest that people selecting potential partners take into consideration political affiliation as a preventative measure. If the two have similar political views the couple has less to fight about.

The study was done by manipulating online dating profiles, specifically in terms of political affiliation, to see the responses of participants. The study states: “We find that participants consistently evaluate profiles more positively (e.g., had greater interest in dating the individual presented) when the target’s profile shared their political ideology.”

Sam Fischer, a student at Montana State University concurs with the results of the study. “Hopefully your political beliefs are based on what you believe as a human,” he said, “and if they’re believing in opposite things, it’s hard for a relationship to continue.”

Discomfort associated with marrying into a different political party is a fairly recent occurrence. According to an article done by Public Radio International, in the 1950’s when people were asked how they would feel if their children were to marry into different political parties, less than 10 percent of Americans felt troubled or displeased at the possibility. Surveys from the 1980’s, however, show that the percentage has risen to almost 25 percent of Americans.

Yale’s study throws into perspective the growing tensions between the two primary political parties in the United States. Democrats and Republicans have become more ideologically divided between 1994 to 2014. This means that the public’s ideological thinking more closely aligns with partisanship.

Kaitlen Carter, another student at MSU said she wouldn’t date someone who held extreme points of view, on either end of the spectrum because “they are more closed minded.” She also said, “I think parties are more on the extreme ends, instead of in the median.”

Her opinion aligns with the findings from a study conducted by the Pew Research Center during the 2016 election. The study found that 70 percent of Democrats think Republicans are more closed-minded than other Americans and 52 percent of Republicans think this of the opposing party.

The study also found that party members had growing feelings of anger, frustration and fear regarding the opposing party. For Republicans 62 percent feel afraid of the opposing party and Democrats were at 70 percent.

The negative views between the opposing parties have increased, more than doubling since 1994. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, the attitudes of party members have extended beyond dislike, to believing that the opposing party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.”

In this same study, they found that in 1994 16 percent of Democrats viewed the other party very unfavorably, and in 2014 it increased to 38 percent with 27 percent viewing the Republican Party as a threat to the nation

The hostility displayed between the two parties has begun to reveal a divided nation. Specifically, the concurrence with the statement that the opposite party is a threat to the nation’s well-being shows that the disagreeing opinions the two parties have on particular topics are enough to push people away from one another.

Likely the divide between the two parties comes from the personal level that politics operates on today. Particularly opinions on abortion and gay rights, two very personal political debates, are both topics that have just recently gained a lot of attention in the political sphere.

Both parties have strong opinions about these two issues, according to a Pew Research study in 2015, 60 percent of Republicans opposed same-sex marriage, with 71 percent of Conservatives in opposition. Only 24 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of Liberals were in opposition.

With abortion, Pew Research had a study in 2012 found opposition to abortion in all cases, 73 percent, rated it as one of the most important voting issues. Overall, they found that 57 percent of Republicans think abortion  should be illegal in all or most cases and Democrats stood at 30 percent. In 2016 they found that 23 percent of Republicans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to Democrats at 78 percent.

With the strong opinions the two parties have on these personal topics, it is likely that opposing opinions would divide a household or turn individuals away from those with opposing opinions entirely. The rift between the two parties has grown and as a result politics have made their way into personal aspects of everyday life.

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