Can a relationship withstand political divisions? Americans are unsure.
According to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 38 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans said they would feel somewhat or very upset at the prospect of their child marrying someone from the opposite party.
We asked our YouGov Chat users to go deeper and tell us what they really think about cross-party dating and marriage. You can share your views on the topic here.
“This has already happened in my family and the marriage did not last.”
The common concern among those who said they would be upset if their child married someone of a differing political ideology was how such a marriage might affect the family dynamic. “I don't need that kind of stress in my life” was an opinion professed by many Chat users. “It might make family get-togethers uncomfortable, especially if they were both “died-in-the-wools.””
Others worried that a marriage between their child and someone from the other party would reflect badly on them as a parent. When explaining why they would be upset about a cross-aisle marriage one user said “it means we didn't instill our values as solidly as we had hoped”. Another echoed that thought, writing “I thought I raised them right and instilled in them the values of Patriotism, Integrity, and Honesty.”
Most Chat users, however, framed their opposition on the grounds that differing ideologies might cause friction within the marriage. Partisan sentiments aside, Chat users were united in the belief that conflict between the couple would be inevitable. “They would always be at odds: which groups get donations, who is right, who is wrong..” wrote one user, “and the in-laws might also cause a lot of stress with dissention about what is true and false. It would put too much pressure on a marriage when marriages already are relatively short-lived.”
Have the last four years made cross party marriages impossible? A number of Chat users seem to think so. “It wouldn’t have upset me 10 years ago, but the two main parties are sooo extremely different these days that anyone who proudly claimed to be in the opposite party would be admitting that they don’t share my core values and beliefs,” wrote one user. “It's not “just politics" anymore. It's a serious moral divide,” wrote another.
“My wife and I support different parties and we've had no problems, why would I be against my child doing the same?”
In contrast, 41 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans would not be upset at the prospect of their son or daughter marrying across the political aisle.
When we asked Chat users why they would not be upset if their child married someone from the opposite party, the overwhelming argument was that children should have the freedom to love whoever they want. “People are free to choose, however misinformed,” claimed one respondent. “For the moment, it’s still a free country,” wrote another. “I'm not marrying the person. My child is. It's their life, their choice.”
Others reasoned that politics should not be the deciding factor in how Americans approach a marriage, whether it's their child or their own. One user wrote “politics is only a small part of our lives, and if politics mean more to you than the happiness of your children, then you are one of the problems in America today.” Another argued that “people place way too much emphasis on politics and not enough emphasis on a person's character.”
A number of Chat users saw cross-party marriages as an opportunity. “It would be a great opportunity to convert them from their wrong way of thinking,” wrote one user. A different respondent claimed “it would give me an opportunity to debunk their positions.”
“People who won’t date people of a different political party are the only people I wouldn’t want to date.”
But while most Americans would be fine with their child marrying someone from the opposite political party, their feelings towards dating across the aisle are less enthusiastic.
More than two in five (45%) Chat users said they would not date someone who supports the opposite political party (data is not yet weighted).
Once again, most respondents believe that dating across the aisle is particularly difficult in the age of Trump. Most (86%) users said it has become more difficult to date someone who supports the opposite political party in the last few years. “I met my husband 10 years ago and we belonged to opposite political parties. We have aligned though the last few years...” wrote one user, “If I were to meet him today and we were on opposite sides, I would never go out with him.” Another wrote that “the current political climate is exacerbated by social media making it impossible to date someone of opposing political views.”
Everyday, members of YouGov Chat are asked to share their opinion on a topic in the news. We allow anyone to take part in these chats, and do not display or weight results in real-time. Instead, to make the experience informative but still interactive, the Chat displays weighted data from YouGov Direct to show them how the rest of the country voted. This enables us to pose the question to all, while retaining data accuracy and validity when communicating results.
YouGov Chat seeks to add to the ‘what?’ (the quantitative poll result) by finding the ‘why?” (qualitative open ends) in a member’s own words. Learn more about YouGov Chat here.