A new study of 5,000 married couples shows that Americans tend to walk in “political lockstep” throughout their relationship.
In an article to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Politics, researchers examined physical and behavioral traits in thousands of spouse pairs in the United States. They found that political attitudes were among the strongest shared traits – stronger, even, than qualities like personality or looks. The only attribute that scored slightly higher than political views was the frequency of church attendance.
People “placed more emphasis on finding a mate who is a kindred spirit with regard to politics, religion and social activity than they (did) on locating similar mates in terms of physique or personality,” according to the article. We did expect to find a strong political bond between husbands and wives,” said political scientist John R. Hibbing of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a co-author of the study. “But we were surprised that political concordance seems to exist from the very early years in the marriage, instead of the folk wisdom of mates growing more alike politically as their relationship goes along.”
Lead study author John Alford says that “It suggests that, perhaps, if you’re looking for a long-term romantic relationship, skip ‘What’s your sign?’ and go straight to ‘Obama or Palin?’” Alford said. “And if you get the wrong answer, just walk away.”
My wife and I don’t share the same political orientation. What about you? In your experience, how much do politics matter in relationships? Read the article here and weigh in by posting a comment below.