Why Parents of Daughters Are More Likely to Vote Republican

These parents are 11 percent more likely to be Republicans than their friends who have a son. Photo: CorbisIt seems, liberal ladies, that there might finally be an explanation for your Republican parents: you. Yep, a new study has found that families with a first child who is a daughter, or with more daughters than sons, are 11 percent more likely to be headed by Republicans than those with no daughters.

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“Parents of daughters, it seems, have an interest in reducing male promiscuity and encouraging greater male investment in their children, consistent with the conservative family policies of the Republican Party,” study coauthor Emily Rauscher, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kansas, tells Yahoo Shine. “Parents of sons, in contrast, are more accepting of teen sex and more liberal policies. In other words, daughters seem to encourage Republican identification through parents’ interest in their grandchildren.”   

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And if that seems like a stretch, consider this: The study’s conclusion is not the first of its kind. Earlier this year, a paper published in the Journal of Politics found that little boys who grow up with sisters are more likely to become Republicans. “Having sisters makes males more politically conservative in terms of their gender role attitudes and their partisanship,” write authors Andrew Healy and Neil Malhotra. “Particularly for gender role attitudes, we find that these political socialization effects persist until respondents are well into adulthood.”

The current study, highlighted by Pew Research Monday and published on November 21 in the journal Sociological Forum, was based on data collected two decades ago. It came from 661 respondents with biological children: the interviews were conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center for the 1994 General Social Survey . Though the fact that the data is older is a “concern,” Rauscher says, she notes that “at the individual level, we have no reason to believe that the relationship would be different now.”  

As far as what the new findings say about the Republican Party, Rauscher says, “It seems possible that the effect of daughters could partly reflect the image of the Republican Party as the ‘family values’ party. While women themselves tend to vote more for Democrats, their parents on average favor the party with the more conservative, traditional family image.”

But in keeping with the belief that one can find a study to prove anything, two prior studies have found the opposite when looking at the effect of daughters on political affiliations. In 2008, a voting analysis of members of Congress found that legislators with more daughters voted more liberally than their other colleagues. And a 2010 study increased the chances that people would vote for the Labor or Liberal Democrat parties over the Conservative Party.

Reactions in the Twitterverse were mixed, with some feeling a bit defensive:

While others found it illogical:

And others, including a Think Progress writer, thought it made all the sense in the world:

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