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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Politically Mixed Marriages

Daniel A. Cox at the Survey Center on American Life:
While interfaith marriages in the United States are on the rise, politically mixed marriages remain uncommon. One in five (20 percent) Americans have a spouse whose political affiliation differs from their own.[11] The vast majority (80 percent) of Americans are married to people who share their same basic political orientation.

The degree of political diversity in marriages is nearly identical among Democrats and Republicans. Only 17 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans report having a spouse who has a political identity different from their own. In contrast, about four in 10 (39 percent) political independents say their spouse has a political identity different from theirs.

Americans who identify as politically moderate are also more likely to have marriages that cross the political aisle. Moderates (28 percent) are twice as likely as both liberals (14 percent) and conservatives (14 percent) to report their spouse’s political identity is distinct.

Unlike interfaith marriages, which have become more common in recent years, the prevalence of politically mixed marriages is more stable. Thirteen percent of couples married before 1972 have dissimilar political affiliations, compared to 21 percent of those married in the past decade.

Having a spouse who does not share the same political orientation may lead to somewhat reduced feelings of relationship satisfaction. Republicans in mixed marriages are less likely to be very or completely satisfied in their relationship than are those married to people aligned with their politics (86 percent vs. 75 percent). There is a more pronounced gap in feeling completely satisfied. Republicans married to politically similar spouses are much more likely than those in politically mixed marriages to say they feel completely satisfied with their relationship (49 percent vs. 34 percent). Democrats married to someone who shares their politics also report greater relationship satisfaction; 74 percent of Democrats whose spouse has similar political views say they are very or completely satisfied, compared to 67 percent in politically mixed marriages.

Being in a politically mixed marriage is associated with having less extreme political views and partisan hostility. Two-thirds (66 percent) of Democrats with a Democratic spouse say they have a very unfavorable view of the Republican Party, compared to 34 percent of Democrats in mixed marriages. Similarly, three-quarters (73 percent) of Republicans in politically homogenous marriages say they have a very unfavorable view of the Democratic Party, while less than half (46 percent) of those who have a spouse who does not share the same politics have a very negative view of the Democratic Party.

Politically mixed marriages may also soften Republicans’ views of opposing party leadership. Republicans married to other Republicans express a much more negative opinion of Joe Biden than those whose spouses have somewhat different political views (82 percent vs. 54 percent, respectively). Notably, for Democrats, negative views of Donald Trump appear to transcend marital influence. Democrats in mixed marriages are not much less likely than those in politically aligned marriages to say they have a very unfavorable view of Trump (73 percent vs. 87 percent).