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Mark Holder, Ph.D.

Post Election: Republicans, Democrats and Happiness

Are Republicans or Democrats happier? And why?

Who’s happier – Republicans or Democrats?

A Pew Research poll conducted 10 years ago found that Republicans self report higher levels of happiness than Democrats. A lot higher. A much larger percentage of Republicans (45 percent) indicated that they are “very happy” than Democrats (30 percent) or Independents (29 percent). In fact, the University of Chicago has surveyed people every two years and found that Republicans have reported higher levels of happiness than Democrats for decades.

Source: Geralt/Pixabay

Why are Republicans happier? Though money contributes to happiness, at least for those with low incomes, money doesn’t explain the happiness gap between Republicans and Democrats. Rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats, and poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats. The gap also isn’t explained by who wins the White House; Republicans remain happier even when a Democratic president is elected.

At least two factors help explain the greater happiness of Republicans: Compared with Democrats, Republicans are more likely to attend a place of worship, and they are more likely to be married. Both religious attendance and marriage are associated with higher levels of happiness.

But today, the day after Trump has won the presidential election, Democrats are probably experiencing particularly less happiness than Republicans. What can research offer Democrats to help restore their happiness? I see parallels with studies of sports teams and their fans.

Before a sporting match, fans predict that if their team loses, they will experience a significant drop in their happiness. In fact, the drop in their happiness, if it occurs at all, is less than they expect. Furthermore, the drop doesn’t last as long as they expect.

So today I imagine that Democrats are less happy. However, research suggests that this decline won’t be as bad or long-lasting as most Democrats predicted.   

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