You Hate Me, Now With a Colorful Chart!

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Earlier today I wrote about a recent study showing that Americans are a lot more agitated than they used to be about the prospect of their daughter marrying someone from the other political party. Normally I wouldn’t revisit this, but a reader sent me a copy of the full study and I found the actual figures pretty fascinating. 

After wrestling with Excel to figure out how to get a scatterplot to work properly, I created the chart on the right. With only three data points I suppose it’s best not to get too worked up about this, but what struck me is the gigantic recent jump. Between 1960 and 2008, the number of upset partisans went up by 16 points among Democrats and 22 points among Republicans. Then, between 2008 and 2010, the number went up by 13 points among Democrats and 22 points among Republicans. That’s as much in two years as in the previous 48.

That’s….astonishing. I’m not sure whether to write this off as an obvious statistical fluke, or to accept it at face value and try to figure how it’s possible. I mean, sure, we had the tea party and all that after Obama was elected, but the previous half century had the John Birch Society, the 60s counterculture, the Reagan era, the anti-Clinton jihadists, the Gingrich Revolution, and the Iraq war. It’s a little hard to believe that the past couple of years have been that uniquely spleen-inducing. Comments?

By the way, I noticed that a number of commenters were aghast that I wouldn’t necessarily mind if my (hypothetical) daughter married a Republican. I think this might be the result of watching too much Fox News and assuming that every Republican is like Sean Hannity. Well, I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry Sean Hannity either. But among the rank and file there are lots of different kinds of Republicans, a great many of whom are perfectly decent folks even if I happen to disagree with them about the optimal top marginal tax rate. It’s a big world out there.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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