Why Sarah Palin Backfired: Parenting Makes Moms Liberal, Dads Conservative

Charity, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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So this is why father thought he knew best. Parenthood pushes mothers and fathers in opposite directions on political issues. Mothers become more liberal and fathers more conservative with regards to government spending on social welfare issues like health care and education.

Researchers from North Carolina State U used data from the 2008 presidential election to evaluate the voting behavior of men and women with children living at home. The findings:

  • Women with children in the home were more liberal on social welfare attitudes and on attitudes about the Iraq War than women without children at home.
  • Men with kids were more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids—though they did not differ in their attitudes towards the war in Iraq.
  • There was no evidence of a ‘Sarah Palin effect’—even when looking exclusively at Republicans. The self-professed hockey mom and working mother of five did not attract votes of parents, especially mothers.

Smart moms.

I mean, it wasn’t Father Jones, now was it?

The researchers also evaluated the data for elections going back to 1980 and found the trend is strengthening for dads to become more conservative, while the trend is holding steady for moms to become more liberal.

Which means the Republican party which calls itself the family-values party might as well call itself the daddy-values party. Or maybe the white-daddy-values party. Or the red-state-white-daddy-values party.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.
 

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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