A baby boom among conservatives could push the nation's politics further right in the coming decades, especially since liberals aren't having as many children, according to a new study of online dating habits of conservatives and liberals.
The study featured in a Harvard University Shorenstein Center review of recent surveys released Tuesday on how political polarization of the nation is impacting Washington's budget talks is the first to challenge left-leaning pundits who have claimed that as the white population shrinks, the GOP will become marginalized.
Instead, the study in the authoritative journal Political Behavior, conducted by scholars from Brown and Penn State University, suggested that liberals could be the endangered species in the coming decades as conservatives, typically white, have more children than liberals. And those children, this study and others show, commonly follow the politics of their parents.
Deep in the study, “The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives,” the authors cite indications that conservative families are having more children than liberals and that could change the political tilt of the nation, according to their simulations. And, they added, it could happen faster than their tests show.
“If conservative couples have more children than liberal couples, as some studies report,” they wrote, “unless birth rates change, and liberals become more politically engaged at higher rates than conservatives to offset the population difference, the simulation may not fully capture the speed with this assortative mating might exert a noticeable effect on political outcomes.”
Their study looked at 2,944 people using an unidentified dating website. They picked five men and five women from 313 zip codes.
The scholars said that while those using the dating site didn't seek liberals or conservatives outright, they did through other characteristics such as race, tobacco use and age.
For example, most conservative daters were white and they preferred other whites. They also liked to date those who “share their relationship status.” And they preferred to date somebody who shares their tobacco usage.
Liberals, meanwhile, were more likely than conservatives to date out of their own race and were more open to somebody “who does not share their body type.”
The study concludes: We find that both liberals and conservatives appear to gravitate toward those like themselves on a variety of demographic dimensions that are likely correlated with political preferences.”
Eventually, they suggest, the politics of the couples merge and feed the growing polarization of the nation that dates back to the 1960s when the streaks of political polarization today in America began to appear.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.