Obama Or Palin? Political Orientation May Trump Looks, Personality

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.

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  1. 21

    Jada @9
    That being said, there’s a bit of a  dilemma. A good deal of liberal women desire men who  adhere more strictly to traditional gender roles  and have a serious  interest in  starting a family in a timely fashion. Conservative men are just  more likely to do those things in tandem, but they’re often rejected on the basis of the belief system that  lays the foundation for  these behavioral patterns.

    I think this is the story of my life.
    I grew up pretty liberal and had those beliefs entrenched in college. As I got older, I got a bit more conservative — still vote Democrat most times, but my personal beliefs are probably more moderate.
    Funny thing though… while I thought I would be super-simpatico with liberal guys because of our supposedly similar beliefs, I found that we clashed a lot in terms of beliefs on marriage and family. I’m very traditional as far as that goes, believing in marriage as an absolute for my life and seeing the family as a crucial building block of society (so spare me with the “village” idea, lol). Many liberal guys that I met were perfectly fine with spending decades “finding themselves,” possibly forgoing marriage while still wanting a long-term commitment and on the fence about children — often stating some reason such as overpopulation and breeding or whatever.
    So… after breaking up with the 38-year-old ultraliberal who said he might not know for another 3-4 years if he wanted to marry… because he was going back to school to get an advanced degree, I began dating a more traditional guy. We NEVER talked about politics (didn’t matter to him), but lo and behold, one day when politics came up, he said he was a Republican.
    Oh the horror, right? Well, seeing how little similar political views had mattered in my past relationships, I said it didn’t matter. We got married.
    I will say that what works is the fact that he’s not a hardliner on every single issue (nor am I). He’s more fiscally conservative than anything, and more libertarian on social issues (like, doesn’t care about gay marriage, abortion, etc… feels they aren’t government’s business). That meshes pretty well with my views, and the older i get, the more I embrace the idea of personal responsibility. Not saying liberals don’t believe in this, but there seems to be more of a focus on outside factors.
    It works for us, but I think it helps that we’re both thinking individuals that understand that every issue has its nuances. We don’t see everything as black and white without shades of gray. His are just more right, and mine are more left. We argue more about other things that have nothing to do with poiitics!

  2. 22

    Six of one and a half dozen of the other. i am a dedicated passivist, environmentalist, and Socialist.   I have two politically conservative male friends with whom i call regularly.   One is very respectful of my views and admires my need to keep up on world affairs.   The other has Rush Limbaugh do all his thinking for him and chastises me for caring about social justice and “believing” in Global Climate Change.   The fact that I am multiracial and have an advanced degree in the sciences still does’nt concince him that I have the “right” to spewak to these issues.   I think the determining factors here are the ability to understand others experiences and points of view and just plain old espect.

  3. 23

    Whoops! Apologize for the typos in the previous post. New eyeglasses; cannot see the computer screen so well these days.

  4. 24

    Intelligence is at the heart of attraction for me.   Therefore, if I think someone’s political beliefs are based on wishful thinking rather than facts available to each of us if we choose to scratch the surface, I will disrespect him.

    Noam Chomsky is sooooooooooooooooo sexy.   I would pay good money if EMK could set me up with a younger version of him.   🙂

  5. 25

    I have friends all over the political spectrum and it makes for interesting discussions, and I like exchanging different opinions.
    But I must admit that I could not bring myself to date anyone who voted for our current prime minister (Berlusconi)… I would be forced to question his intelligence and his sense of respect towards women.   How a guy votes is actually really important to me, now that I think of it. Could I really stay with a guy if I knew deep down that he had no problem with the thought of a nuclear plant being built in his back yard (something we are voting on this Sunday)… ? It would bug the crap out of me.

  6. 26
    Christie Hartman

    Couples, especially couples who succeed, usually have similar political and social stances because these things reflect one’s values and beliefs about the world. Looks and personality get people together, but values are what keep them together.

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