It’s that time of year again! The big reveal of Match.com’s Single in America study, where those of us who can’t even remember being single get a peak into everyone else’s world. The survey, comprising 5,000 singles across demographics, offers many insights into singledom, including a window into the intersection of politics and sex.
Among the findings: almost half of single conservative Republicans have had a one-night stand (omgz) and although they have had the least sex over the last year (they’re very busy following the primaries, thankyouverymuch) they are the most likely to achieve orgasm (wait —what?!). Conservative Republicans are turned off by a date “with strong opinions,” but this trait turns a liberal Democrat on. While a third of respondents don’t view infidelity as a deal breaker in their own relationships, 9 out of ten think there are “no acceptable excuses” for politicians’ infidelities. Somewhere, a Newt Gingrich pollster is crying.
There is one thing we almost all agree on: People of all political stripes support having a single president and having him or her date while in office. Why? Most likely because we all saw The American President and are still waiting for the day when a President holds a press conference and sticks it to his opponent by saying: “Your fifteen minutes are up. We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them.”
In addition to these ridiculously entertaining tidbits, there are also less salacious items that aren’t getting as much attention. Republicans value a partner who is fiscally like-minded, wants marriage and shares their values. Sounds a lot like what they’re looking for in a presidential candidate, right? Democrats, by contrast, are more interested in a partner who is respectful, humorous and comfortable with their sexuality.
Perhaps most telling (orgasms aside) is that among more conservative Republican singles, finding someone of the same religious and ethnic background is a priority. Unfortunately, Match.com didn’t release the cross-tabs of their study, but if we look at other data, we know that about 9 out of 10 Republicans are non-Hispanic Whites. So really this stat about conservative Republicans wanting to be with someone of the same ethnicity tells us that among conservative Whites, being with other Whites is important. That might seem obvious, but it’s interesting because it is a potentially personal manifestation of a public anxiety particular to this racial and political subset.
A Heartland Monitor poll asked respondents for their reaction to America’s demographic changes. Fifty-three percent of Whites expressed anxiety about the transformation, saying that it would fundamentally changing the nation’s “character and values.” Attitudes about America’s racial transformation tracked with political ideology: “uneasy Whites” leaned to the right, whereas “welcoming Whites” leaned to the left. As National Journal’s Ron Brownstein recently wrote, “The GOP coalition revolves around the portions of White America (particularly older and non-college Whites) least comfortable with the ongoing transformation.”
So while the world around conservative Republicans becomes increasingly diverse, one can imagine that there is a desire to control that which they can. For some, that means anchoring their nuclear world in that which is familiar, with that familiarity defined by religion and ethnicity.
It is also possible that this data point speaks to a generational divide. Conservative Republicans skew older, away from Millennial supportive attitudes of interracial or interethnic dating and marriage. While 85 percent of Millennials say they would be fine with an interracial marriage, that number drops to 55 percent among 50-to-64-year-olds, and 38 percent of those 65 and older.
If Match.com were to release their crosstabs, it would be interesting to track all of these various preferences across multiple variables: race, political affiliation, generation, gender, etc. For now, especially among those of us who debate politics as though we can change hearts and minds, the most eye-opening data point may be that for 46% of respondents, their political views have not changed in the last 10 years. Take that one to the bank.