October 29, 2020

"Now there’s evidence that the heightened partisanship has — paradoxically — led politically mixed couples to understand each other better than before...."

"Although a sizable share of Americans don’t follow current events closely and don’t vote, the Trump presidency has been so polarizing and omnipresent that many voters say it has been all but impossible to avoid politics, even for couples who ordinarily do....  Politically mismatched couples may be the best example that Democrats and Republicans aren’t necessarily too polarized to relate. Battleground neighborhoods, where the number of Democrats and Republicans are roughly equal, have the highest rate of households with politically mixed marriages, the political science paper found. That suggests that in these places, the political climate may be more civil than people realize, Professor Hersh said. 'When we construct an image of the other party at a distance, abstractly, we tend to construct someone who’s different on every dimension,' he said. 'In spite of all the heightened rhetoric about Democrats and Republicans hating each other, they really do have exposure to these people in their lives, in their homes, and in their beds.'"


So... are we polarized or not? The press has worked hard to present us as polarized, and this article goes back and forth on whether individuals, in their closest relationships, and doing political polarization. I'm especially interested in seeing where we are not polarized. That's why I read this article. I didn't quite get the encouragement I wanted. I knew the comments would be depressing. Top-rated comment:
To have a Republican partner would literally be "sleeping with the enemy." How could you trust someone who supported Donald Trump with a key to your house much less a place in your heart? The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry." Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable.

64 comments:

Mr Wibble said...

In the past four years I lived in southern California, as well as the very blue capitol of a midwestern state. I'm set to move to Northern Virginia next week for work. It's been interesting to see the number of dating profiles where young women announce that they will not date Trump supporters or conservatives in general.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

To have a Republican partner would literally be "sleeping with the enemy." How could you trust someone who supported Donald Trump with a key to your house much less a place in your heart? The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry." Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable

Yeah Honey...I know just how you feel.

I can't stand you either. Better not eat my cooking...just a friendly warning 😎

DEEBEE said...

Incel alert

etbass said...

My wife and I happen to have the same political views, as do all our children. But we both have siblings who are liberal and uninformed. We have decided that discussing politics with them is nothing but a fracture of family relationships and serves no good whatever. So, while I am sure they all suspect we are Trumpers, they do not bring it up. But they also feel free to discuss their hatred of Trump. We just stay quiet.

Original Mike said...

"The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry."

Sad. I've taken up the habit of listening to Scott Adams' podcasts and one of the things i've taken away is he is careful about ascribing motives. "I can't read people's minds."

Big Mike said...

The press has worked hard to present us as polarized

The press has worked hard to polarize us.

@Althouse FIFY.

Lucid-Ideas said...

"The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry.""

Spoken like a true 5 year old, and with about as much understanding as one too.

Colin said...

I've thought for years now that the US is nearly unique in the sense of national sense of self. Most other nations have some form of overarching culture that transcends mere politics or government. The foremost example to my mind being France which has had a truly astounding number of governments over the years but never seems to have lost the sense of people being "French".

The US doesn't have that sort of cultural glue, and I think a great amount of the overt patriotism displayed with flags and veneration of old pieces of paper is our poor substitute for that national myth. I think we're held together with the equivalent of spit and bailing wire in comparison, something akin to the Ottomans of old...and it's starting to really rust through in some spots now. Ideology is competing with national identity, and ideology is winning - at least with a certain segment of the population. I read people continually pushing that angle day and and day out, and it's like watching kids juggle with hand grenades.

Unknown said...

Yes how could you trust someone who would support looting, burning and murdering to be near your children.

Jim Gust said...

I attended a sales conference in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The guest speakers were the political odd couple of James Carville and Mary Matalin. They showed how to disagree without being disagreeable, how to respect and debate opposing views without belittling your opponent.

They were terrific.

sparrow said...

I can't imagine having a Democrat spouse, to me the divide is too great, especially with regard to raising a family. I do have a Democrat sister, however, for whom I care for very much, even though we agree on practically nothing except not to argue with each other over politics.

PM said...

Not as polarized as we'd be if our vote selections were publicized.

Ken B said...

Would you expect anything different, except for the party name, from most of the regulars here?

tcrosse said...

This can all be worked out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

MeatPopscicle1234 said...

My fiance and I are 180 degrees opposite of each other politically, although I've gotten her to come around to some of my positions on things like guns and taxes...

However she loathes Trump with all her being and we are unable to talk politics because for her it's all about feelings and she refuses to accept any information from "blogs" or "right-wing" news sites (any non MSM outlet).

Some of our biggest fights have started because we got pulled into talking politics, and we've decided for the sake of our relationship to just not do that anymore.

Ultimately we both want a lot of the same things, we just vehemently disagree on the policies necessary to achieve those goals.

tim maguire said...

My wife and I are politically polarized. She deals with it by continually trying to open my eyes so I can see my mistake and I deal with it by saying as little as possible. I don't lie, but I keep my opinions to myself to the degree possible. Our dynamic requires that I be patient and accepting. We have great conversations about issues where we agree, but she never gives an inch on issues where we disagree.

Unknown said...

"To have a Republican partner would literally be "sleeping with the enemy."

Four years of Trump/Russia lies from the Dems and their propaganda machine will do this.

Static Ping said...

The United States is not Twitter.

The United States is not the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, or NPR.

Paradoxically, the United States is not the currently addled state of the Democratic Party.

But, golly, they are all trying really hard to make it so.

YoungHegelian said...

There's no way statistically that the yuuuuge gender divide of Democratic Women/Republican Men couldn't but lead to politically mixed marriages. If no mixed marriages, a lot of people just wouldn't have spouses at all.

Unknown said...

People - mainly but not exclusively progressives, in my experience - who allow politics to get in the way of relationships with friends, family members or spouses simply amaze me. It's like they want to be unhappy.

James K said...

Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable.

Now do George Conway.

Political Junkie said...

My wife is a D who does not like to talk about politics. She is not a lefty. She is in favor of the death penalty, for instance. She says she votes for the "best person", but I wonder if she has ever voted for a male R.I love her, of course! I should vote, to cancel her vote, but I saw years ago where we are heading and gave up on voting. Politics is downstream from culture, IMO.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The writer remains certain that her people are not attacking or shaming or trying to hurt anyone, but are repeated victims of the evil others. And yet conservatives give more to charity, volunteer in the community more, and even give blood more often than liberals. They adopt more children, they volunteer overseas. The unfriend the political opposition less, they commit fewer crimes, especially violent crimes.

She has it precisely backwards, and cannot bear it.

Drago said...

Find a partner that shares your values.

Always.

Unless you are Mandy Patinkin....his gal is certifiable.

buwaya said...

I have seen your social castes when they are face to face, in corporate settings, social settings, board meetings, etc. I have had the privilege to exist in both worlds, having a set of, as it were, social passports to both.

You lot really do hate each other. In California certainly.

Readering said...

I live with someone who until recently was seriously thinking of voting for Trump after sitting out 2016. She liked him on the issue she cares most about. But she is generally someone who does not follow politics, so we don't debate and it was not a problem and would not have been a problem had she stuck to her original plan. I had more problems with friends when I said I was going to write in. (Changed my mind after POTUS got covid and went bonkers.)

But I generally am of the view that with 140 million or more votes, how can one get in a lather about one vote. Just like I don't understand how folks get in a lather in the comments section here. Not even 1 vote.

todd galle said...

This is why I married a good Central PA Republican, daughter of an unfortunately unsuccessful PA Judgeship candidate during the Thornburgh ear. She only has started complaining about my comments on the political TV commercials. She doesn't disagree, only that it gets repetitive. She is correct, and I have moderated my behaviour. We've been so inundated though, on political ads that it's distracting. I put on those Ghost Hunting shows because there are no political ads running on those channels. We watched the news this morning, and several entire commercial breaks were for nothing but political ads. We're in the Harrisburg market, but everyone knows where Cumberland County is going, what a fantastical waste of $, mostly by the Dems. If they have to spend that amount of money in Dauphin County, their internal polls must just suck. Bill P., what do you see in Hershey?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

To be serious....having differences in opinion between spouses is necessary. You are individual persons and shouldn't be clones of each other.

People can disagree about small things. Tarter sauce on all fish or not. Rare or well done. Showers or Tub Baths. Thermostats. Ford versus Chevy. Lots of inconsequential things.

However, when it comes to fundamental world views and deeply held integral positions where you have STRONG opinions, you should be on the same page or close to it. Or willing to just grit your teeth and let it roll off your back. If you can't do that, then your relationship is in trouble.

Finances, attitudes towards money, how to raise children, bigger goals in life, religious and politics are among those that are pretty important. If you are fundamentally opposed, eventually your relationship will break apart.

It is easy to just say...I won't discuss politics with my Father, Sister, etc because you are not living with them anymore. However, you must live with your spouse.

I don't agree 100% with my husband on politics and many other things, but we are at least 80% in accord.

I have friends who are "liberals" and we all seem to have the same mindset. Avoid the sticky tar pit of politics, and religion and talk about things where we can have common ground. If we can't....we just ghost each other. Adios.

There is no way in this world that I could live with or have a close relationship with a Progressive, SJW, Liberal. That goes for family as well. Sorry Bro.

hombre said...

GDP up more than 30% this quarter. How stupid does someone have to be to elevate collaboration with the ChiComs above the prosperity of the U.S.?

Original Mike said...

"Find a partner that shares your values."

I met my wife before I really cared about politics (pre 9/11). Fortunately, I got lucky. Although there's more to values than politics.

Howard said...

The polarization is limited to the fake news social media complex. Everything's fine in the real world. You people should get out in the real world more often you would have much less angst

TreeJoe said...

I think this article struggles with something that the press, and many "experts", seek to avoid:

That in reality when we are faced with a true existential threat, we tend to bond together.

It is only in times of peace and relative stability that we see our neighbors, with mildly different beliefs, to be seen as our enemies.

PJ said...

Professor Hersh said. 'When we construct an image of the other party at a distance, abstractly, we tend to construct someone who’s different on every dimension,'

The business about the Trump presidency being uniquely polarizing is of course bullshit of the sort one needs to spout if one wants to be published in the NYT.

But I think the article otherwise makes an excellent point about battleground neighborhoods and politically mixed marriages, and I think the observation about better civility in those circumstances is very likely true. Our national migration from social institutions that promote interaction of people with diverse political views (local civic service organizations, social clubs, churches) to those that promote interaction with politically like-minded others (explicitly political activism organizations, social media groups) has correlated with increasing polarization. More personal interaction with "the enemy" would reveal that the enemy mostly wants what we want at a high level of generality and altogether is perfectly respectable. Now, who would be interested in discouraging such mutual respect, and why?

Michael K said...

I have five kids. Two are lefties and one is probably still a lefty. The other two are conservative. My younger son, who is a high school graduate, is the only one who owns his home. Two lefties are lawyers, of course.

Iman said...

Big Mike @12:16pm...

Conflict is money for what constitutes our MSM. NYT is a collective of asshoe.

hombre said...

"My wife is a D who does not like to talk about politics...."

Democrats do not discuss politics. The leftmediaswine do their talking. They will say "Orange Man Bad", but issues? Nah.

Their party is seditious, morally bankrupt and is running China Joe the Grifter. They will destroy the economy, sell out Israel for Iran, raise taxes, ignite the Middle East, defund the cops, capitulate to the ChiComs, ruin women's sports and kill more babies.

What can they talk about, how amoral and self destructive they are? The disaster they are building for our children?

Sorry about your wife. Sleep with one eye open!

Iman said...

They showed how to disagree without being disagreeable, how to respect and debate opposing views without belittling your opponent.

It took marrying a snakehead to do it!? Sheeesh!

This Person said...

I don't want to and didn't click the link. But I call BS on the idea that "heightened partisanship" has "led" to a better understanding in mixed couples. Maybe the rest of the article or the study provides some support for that idea, but the part quoted here doesn't support it at all.

Kevin said...

Politically mismatched couples may be the best example that Democrats and Republicans aren’t necessarily too polarized to relate. Battleground neighborhoods, where the number of Democrats and Republicans are roughly equal, have the highest rate of households with politically mixed marriages, the political science paper found. That suggests that in these places, the political climate may be more civil than people realize, Professor Hersh said.

Shorter NYT: We would not go to these places or talk to these people, but we did find a paper from someone who said he did.

BarrySanders20 said...

Mixed political marriage here. 27 years and still going well. Wife is a reliable D voter, to my knowledge has never voted R, but not very woke. Her confident pronouncements about the depravity of Muslims are shocking even to me (she's read all of Ayaan Hirsan Ali's books). We watch debates together and generally laugh. Dont try to convince each other of anything politically as we respect each others' intelligence and ability to make decisions. We also know that one vote is meaningless. Her sister, also a D, married a R and they have a great, long-lasting marriage as well.

Our kids are mixed politically as well. Girls vote D, Boy votes R. We did nothing different to raise or influence any of them, they just are what they are. The oldest tells me her serious boyfriend votes R and knows she votes D but it doesn't bother them. It drove my wife's lefty brother and his communist wife bonkers to know that. They are insufferable and always want to talk politics. She was literally bawling the day after Trump got elected and wondered aloud how she could ever come back to Wisconsin when people here hated her and she would not be safe (she's Asian). Geez Louise. Get a grip. She did and has been back many times. And hasn't yet been lynched by a Trumpster!

My wife's brother abandoned the Catholic church and refused to baptize his kids. Whatever - to each his own. I think politics is their religion. For these people, it is inconceivable to love someone who may have different political views. They live in NYC, so their attitudes are reflected in the comments at NYT. I'd tell them to grow up but they are in their 40's. Will be funny if their kids rebel and become conservatives, or marry one.

Complicated stuff!

Francisco D said...

How could you trust someone who supported Donald Trump with a key to your house much less a place in your heart? The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry." Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable.

This strikes me as clear evidence that lefty journalists have their heads so far up their asses that they are incapable of objective reasoning.

My wife is a life long moderate member of the Democrat tribe. She listens to NPR and watches CNN/CBS/ABC/NBC. She doesn't seek information to verify or challenge her opinions. She is an artist not a philosopher. We argue when I ask her to give me examples of Trump's "constant lying" because she doesn't have any. She gets pissed when I say that Trump may be a bully, but he is the most bullied POTUS in history.

I feel some measure of success in that my wife is considering a write-in for POTUS (me) and not voting for Biden. There is no way she could vote for Trump (who she worked with 30 years ago) because she feels he is disrespectful to women. It has nothing to do with policy. It is emotion based judgment. My emotion based judgment tells me that Democrats are socialist totalitarians. She doesn't disagree, but commonly says that Republicans are just as bad. Again, no examples.

This feels like a microcosm of politically mixed marriages.

Clyde said...

"Making liberals cry" is not my number one reason for voting for Trump. Or my number two reason. But it probably IS somewhere in the Top Ten.

What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of the women.

MD Greene said...

Perhaps the biggest promoter of leftist groupthink and withering scorn for those who dare disagree is the New York Times.

It might be a more insightful paper if some of its contributors got out more often. Their caricatures of imagined "others" whom they never will meet say more about writers themselves than the nature of "polarization" in the country today.

If you already know everything, naturally you think that people who disagree with you are not worth your time. In fact, when I was my 20s I was pretty sure I knew everything myself. It was only when I started listening to other people that I began to appreciate how they saw the world and not to be threatened by it. My life has been more interesting and satisfying ever since.


Leora said...

A Loud Minority is dominating our puublic discourse. I'd lay odds in excess of 90% of Americans have no objection to the Girl Scouts congratulating Amy Coney Barrett and also don't care that much how other people vote. Fewer than 4 million people even donate to political campaigns.

Chris N said...

How can you let someone who supports Donald Trump into your heart, when inside are a just a few cats and some picket signs with feminist slogans scrawled on them?

Big Mike said...

@Mr. Wibble, don’t move to Reston. The Reston Homeowner’s Association is infamous. It once sued a homeowner for painting his house the wrong shade of beige. Truth!

Joe said...

In my experience, the existence of "mixed" marriages is far from unusual. I've often surmised that such a condition was one reason for the often heard complaint that American voter turnout is so low. I asked my parents one election day why they weren't going to vote. The answer was it didn't matter because their votes would cancel each other out because one would vote democrat while the other would vote republican. I suspect-because neither confirmed-my union member dad was the democrat voter. Which is kind of odd because it was the values of my dad that resulted in me voting republican most of the time.
Speaking of mixed marriages, I'm pretty sure my wife voted democrat most of the time. Still not sure because neither of us talks in terms of party--only in terms of specific policies. And we never argued, simply stated our positions or made our comments. If positions were firm, we simply let go and went back to what was more important in our lives--each other and our daughter.

Temujin said...

Why, it's almost as if they've forgotten this went on during the Obama years as well.

Merny11 said...

5 kids. The 2 that are lefty’s are impossible to have a conversation with re ANYTHING even REMOTELY political. It’s the same with two of our closest friends. It’s frustrating- but being typical lefties THEY must approve all conversations.

Jupiter said...

"Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable."

"Conan, what is best in life?"

"To crush your enemies, drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of their women."

stevew said...

That top rated comment is moronic. None of those reasons explain why I will be voting for Trump. Though it is true that should he win I will enjoy seeing and hearing about her tears.

There is plenty of disagreement about politics and policy among the people in my life. There is no polarization, and there are no ruined or endangered relationships in my circle, not over this stuff. We are quite good at keeping all this noise in its proper perspective.

Professional lady said...

The unreasoned Trump hatred engaged in by the Lefties reminds me so much of their unreasoned Obama adoration before and during his presidency. In both cases uncritical acceptance of the mainstream media was/is a huge factor. Whatever happened to critical thinking?

n.n said...

People are not one-dimensional. We are characterized by a constellation of principles and priorities. Peace! in the Middle East. #HateLovesAbortion

Amadeus 48 said...

Random thoughts:

1. Often, opposites attract.
2. The human heart is way too complicated to explain away with generalizations. Couples have to find their way forward to suit themselves.
3. So...how are things at Meadehouse these days? I imagine you two are getting along just fine even if you have political differences (I can't tell if you do or you don't). In any case, you seem to love and respect each other. That's the key.

Amadeus 48 said...

I have lost one friendship over politics in the past few years, and that was because I was a fool in the way that I handled a disagreement. My friend was a political correspondent on TV for many years, and we disagreed on voter ID. Instead of backing off, I poured it on.

Don't do that if you want to keep your friends.

Rick.T. said...

Salty liberal tears make the best seasoning.

Jim at said...

Those racist, sexist, misogynist, violent, white supremacist Nazi Trump supporters are so fucking polarizing, aren't they?

Biff said...

Coincidentally, while I wouldn't quite raise it to the level of a tiff, I had a bit of a conflict with my gf just yesterday. I characterized the NYT's cultural coverage as "tedious," and she disputed it.

Mr Wibble said...


@Mr. Wibble, don’t move to Reston. The Reston Homeowner’s Association is infamous. It once sued a homeowner for painting his house the wrong shade of beige. Truth!


Thanks for the advice. I'm looking for a place for 6-7 months and then hopefully I can move somewhere west of the DC area and telework.

JaimeRoberto said...

My wife mostly shares my politics, which means I get two votes. My son on the other hand is still young and is still a lefty. It's possible to have a rational conversation up to a point, and then it's like a switch is flipped and he goes irrational. We were talking about why I plan to vote for Trump, and he listened calmly until I mentioned his Supreme Court appointments and he went into a rage about ACB and stormed out of the room. Then today he was saying how he was unhappy that the Post Office was being "defunded", and that he'd be willing to pay more in taxes to support cheaper postage. When I pointed out that he doesn't pay any taxes and that what he's asking is for somebody else to subsidize cheaper postage, he flipped out again talking about how Americans are selfish. Hopefully he will grow out of it. He doesn't have to agree with me, but the irrational rage is weird.

wary said...

Mixed marriage. Live in strong Biden neighborhood. As the R in the household, it’s Hell every 4 years. I used to console myself with the ‘I think she’s misguided but she thinks I’m evil’ approach but it would blow over after the election. Note after 2016.

Am now sure that Liberalism is a mental disease. Waiting until last child goes to college and then decide if i need to pull the plug.

Narayanan said...

MeatPopscicle1234 said...
My fiance and I are 180 degrees opposite of each other politically, although I've gotten her to come around to some of my positions on things like guns and taxes...

… we've decided for the sake of our relationship to just not do that anymore.

Ultimately we both want a lot of the same things, we just vehemently disagree on the policies necessary to achieve those goals.
-----------===============
/same things/ /those goals/

I would be interested for you to see how the divide shapes up if you care to try and distinguish

/same things/ as in personal family life = house-hold-work-living-building-future-children-finance-economics

vs

/those goals/ = social-do-gooding : personal giving and political-nudging-interference

boatbuilder said...

My lovely bride of 34 years is a self-described liberal who prides herself on cancelling out my vote. We agree to disagree, but make a pretty good go of it anyway.

In fairness, though, I am exceptionally sexy and irresistible, so she puts up with my politics. ;^)

Don said...

My wife of 33 years asked the other evening during Tucker: “so who are the reds and who are the blues?” She hasn’t voted in years.