Dealbreaker or No Dealbreaker: Partner Politics

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As it turns out, Stanford students don’t seem to value voting too much. This observation spurred my curiosity into the political dynamics of interpersonal relationships. Do we care if our significant others match our political beliefs? If so, how much?

In the 2019 Marriage Pact, political questions remained completely absent from the top 10 list of questions ranked as important by participants. Coming in at the 12th most important question was “Gender roles exist for a good reason.” Heart-warming to know that we at least sort of care about sexism. Following closely In 15th place was “I’m comfortable with my child being gay.” It’s important to note that ranking a question as important doesn’t necessarily imply agreement or disagreement — however, both of these questions had an 80–20 split, with the majority agreeing with the more socially liberal view.

In 19th place: “It’s important my kids be raised religious,” with 66% of people disagreeing. “Social activism is important to me,” comes in 22nd place, or approximately halfway through the total list of questions. These rankings seem reasonable, but it’s important to look at these questions in the context of those ranked higher: “I consider myself outdoorsy,” I like to be thought of as spontaneous,” “Working out is an important part of my identity.” Are things like spontaneity and how many times a week you hit the gym truly more critical to our identities than our politics?

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On the other hand, some of us care deeply about our partner’s political party. 50% of Democratic respondents said they “had strong feelings about their partner’s political affiliation.” As you can see in the matrix above, 40% of these individuals then said they’d prefer not to be matched with a Republican, 20% opted out of a Communist match, and Libertarians followed closely behind at a respectable 17.5% undesirability rate.

Only 30% of Republicans said they cared about their partner’s political beliefs; of that segment, 30% asked not to be matched with a Socialist or Communist, while 15% asked not to be matched with a Democrat (perhaps influenced by the fact that there are far fewer conservatives on campus: Students may not want to narrow down their dating pool too much.)

By far the two groups with highest rates of political opt-out were Socialists and Communists, with 75% and 74%, respectively, saying they have preferences for partner politics. Their breakdowns were fairly similar: 50% asked not to be matched with a Libertarian, and 70% asked not to be matched with a Republican. It seems the Communists and Socialists tend to stick to their own.

Keep an eye out for the next installment in our series about campus politics.