Are You Married to Your Party?

People often ask me “who these people are” — those who elected Donald J. Trump or those who voted for Hillary Clinton.

They’ll ask, “What’s the single best description of Trump supporters?” My answer often disappoints them. It’s quite simple: They’re Republicans. When they ask about Clinton supporters, the answer is similar: They’re Democrats.

It seems like a frustrating answer, but for more than six decades, party identification has been shaping the vote. Political scientists have long held that party labels do more than just summarize people’s views on issues and policies. They are expressions of an identity. This trait, like many others, may be learned in the laps of our parents and in our neighborhoods when we are young, the same way we learn about our ethnicities or religions.

And it seems we also want to perpetuate that identity in successive generations. A survey of whom American voters prefer for their children’s marriage partners shows just how powerful party identification has become. CONT.

Lynn Vavreck (UCLA), New York Times