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When It Comes To Politics, Do You 'Stand By Your Man'?

paul janna ryan

Ann Romney. Janna Ryan. In the last couple of days, we've heard the hopeful first ladies of the GOP give Republican National Convention speeches in support of their men. Ann's was rousing and widely lauded, even by those who don't support Mitt Romney. She humanized Mitt (a tough order) by calling him "this boy I met at a high-school dance" who "made me laugh," and went on to pander for the female vote by talking about voting moms and couples who can't afford more children (also tough, since she grew up so friggin' privileged). Janna, on the other hand, got a case of the nerves, causing some bloggers to want to give her a hug. Poor sweetheart! You should be nervous, you're married to an incurable liar and Ayn Rand-lover. 

But they both, blonde* and slender, stood by their men just as they were expected to, continuing that proud tradition of smiling, slightly plastic GOP wives. Which brings us to an interesting question ... Do these women actually believe everything they're so eagerly supporting? How much of a relationship between a couple like Mitt and Ann Romney is about love, the kind that thrives outside of political views, and how much stems from sharing dare-we-say intellectual ideas, values and beliefs? After all, Ann Romney is pro-choice and the Republican platform couldn't be clearer about their anti-woman stance on abortion. Do their dinner conversations just never "go there"? We know Barack and Michelle bonded partly because they supported the same causes — but of course not all political couples are the same.

Interestingly, and not at all in tandem with our experience, some surveys suggest that Republicans actually care more about their partner's political party. According to the 2011 Singles in America study from, "Republican and Democratic singles seek dramatically different traits in a partner. Liberal Democrats are more likely to search for someone with a sense of humor, similar lifestyle to their own, a sense of independence and someone whom they consider to be their equal. Republicans really are conservative when it comes to choosing a partner; they're searching for someone with the same background and political party as their own who is interested in marriage." Maybe Republicans care more about actual political party for status reasons, while Democrats just want someone they can relate and talk to, regardless of labels? 

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But how many of us would actually date someone with different political views from our own? Online dating site recently found that of the 2,258 adults who participated in their online survey, 62 percent would be all for dating someone who has completely opposite political views. When you break it down by region, it was in the South where political (and religious, according to another part of the survey) differences were less accepted. Down there, only 59 percent of adults were keen on the idea of dating someone who didn't share their political opinions, while in the wild-wild Northeast, 67 percent of people were open to this. It's not that big a difference, but overall it shows that Americans are pretty open to dating people of opposing beliefs.

Why, exactly, are we so willing to date people from other political parties? We know more than one liberal Red Sox fan who would never date a Yankees fan, but would probably be down with a fiscal conservative. Is it that we like a healthy debate at the dinner table, or do most of us just not care enough about politics? 

Do you prefer to date people of your own political party? If you're married or in a relationship with someone with different political views, how do you reconcile your differences?

*Why are so many Republican women blonde? Why? Of course there are the notable exceptions of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, but not only haven't we seen a single non-white person at the RNC, we've seen very few brunettes. Somebody please do a study on why this happens.