by Andrew Dugan
Married registered voters prefer Republican challenger Mitt Romney over Democratic President Barack Obama by 54% to 39%, according to Gallup data collected from June to August. On the other hand, nonmarried voters break strongly for the president over Romney, 56% to 35%. Marriage is a significant predictor of presidential vote choice even after income, age, race, gender, education, religiosity, region, and having minor children are statistically controlled for.
As an illustration, Romney possesses an overwhelming advantage among the “highly religious,” (57%), while his support is weaker with the “moderately religious” (45%) and the “not religious” (31%). However, Romney performs comparatively better against Obama among those who are married within each of the three religiosity categories. At the same time, Obama does better among the nonmarried within each religiosity category. Even among Americans who are highly religious, those who are not married support Obama over Romney by a six-percentage-point margin. Among the highly religious who are married, Romney beats Obama by an overwhelming 36-point margin.
Nonmarried Americans strongly prefer President Obama to rival Mitt Romney, 56% to 35%; this group includes those who are single, in a domestic partnership, widowed, divorced, and separated. Support for President Obama varies among these subgroups — those who are single (61%), are in a domestic partnership (62%), or are separated (58%) are especially supportive of the president, while the divorced (51%) are somewhat less so, with those who are widowed breaking even.
There are a number of potential explanations for marriage’s impact on presidential vote choice. One might be that conservatives and Republicans, with their philosophical commitment to social traditions and customs, are especially likely to get married. Setting aside religious considerations and the innate desire to marry that apply to a broad cross-section of people, it may be that Republican voters also consider marriage an expression of civic responsibility that stems from their political beliefs. On that point, a Gallup poll earlier this year found that 45% of married individuals believed their views on social issues to be conservative or very conservative, while 30% of the nonmarried described their social beliefs similarly.
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