Okay, so a lot of people are familiar with the idea that things like race and geographical location may influence who you vote for. But what about things that are seemingly unrelated to politics? Are people in the same political party more likely to share a taste in beer? Turns out there may be some (quite tenuous) associations. I’m going to say upfront that some of this science is rather dubious, but just for fun, here are some things that have recently been linked to politics:
Buckeyes fan: Obama
Badgers fan: Romney
OSU quarterback Braxton Miller runs in a touchdown. (Source)
Can something completely unrelated to government performance affect how candidates do in a political race? A team of researchers from Stanford University and Loyola Marymount University attempted to answer this question by analyzing election results and comparing them to the performance of local sports teams. They found that the incumbent was likely to do better when the local college football team was winning, and that this effect was amplified when the school was a football powerhouse with a lot of fan support. Their rationale? A person whose team is doing well may be more content; a fan whose team has had a recent loss may think of themselves as having a worse overall well-being. The study authors suggested that this could (irrationally) influence a person’s opinion of the economy and subconsciously influence their view of how the current government was doing. The advantage conferred to the incumbent by football wins was a small one, but as anyone will tell you, even a small boost can have an impact in swing states like Ohio (where the Buckeyes are undefeated) or Wisconsin (where the badgers recently suffered a loss).
Single ovulating female: Obama
Married ovulating female: Romney
A University of Texas study recently made headlines because it claimed that a woman’s estrogen levels and relationship status were linked to her preferred presidential candidate. Here’s a possible reason for the link, as explained by Kristina Durante, the study’s lead researcher, in a recent news article:
When women are ovulating, they “feel sexier,” and therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality. Married women have the same hormones firing, but tend to take the opposite viewpoint on these issues, she [Durante] says.
“I think they’re overcompensating for the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men,” she said. It’s a way of convincing themselves that they’re not the type to give in to such sexual urges, she said.
If this sounds like crap, that’s because it is. First of all, this data came from an internet survey – no hormone levels were taken. Also, the survey was given once, so there’s no indication that the viewpoints of the women change over time, although that’s what seems to be implied here. There are many other problems with the study as well; for a more thorough debunking, check out this post by Scicurious and this post by Kate Clancy.
The website Engage made this informal map by matching peoples’ Facebook “likes” to their political preferences. Let me emphasize the word “informal.” I wouldn’t draw any solid conclusions from this data – although I was mildly amused to see that Google and Bing were each linked to different candidates – but it’s all good fun.
Sierra Nevada: Obama
Another bubble chart was made by a couple of guys over at NationalJournal – this time, we’re looking at beer. The data came from over 200,000 interviews, as compiled by Scarborough Research. Again, I’m not sure if you can make too many conclusions from this, although I think I’m not surprised to see a general trend of Bud and Busch drinkers being not as politically active.
In the end, will any of these factors determine our next president? Probably not, but it can be interesting to see loose trends and correlations. Are any of these trends true for you?
Healy, Malhotra, and Mo. PNAS 2010. Irrelevant events affect voters’ evaluations of government performance. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919954/
Landau. 24 Oct 2012. Study looks at voting and hormones. WTHITV10. http://www.wthitv.com/dpps/healthy_living/general_health/study-looks-at-voting-and-hormones_4857701#.UJhjV8XA8lL
Ruffini. 10 Jul 2012. Mapping the Politics of the Social Web. Engage. http://www.engagedc.com/2012/07/10/mapping-politics-social-web/
Shannon and Feltus. 27 Sept 2012. What Your Beer Says About Your Politics. NationalJournal. http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2012/09/the-politics-of-3.php/