How Political ID Influences Personal Activities

June 6, 2023by Brannon Miller
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A recent Pew Research Study (April 2023) of more than 5000 adults in the USA confirmed that Democrats and Republicans are a lot more alike than different when it comes to time priorities.

  • About 9 in 10 respondents from both political camps said spending time with family was a top priority.
  • About ¾ of both Democrats AND Republicans ranked physical activity as a priority.
  • Similarly, more than 7 in 10 respondents from both parties said being outdoors and experiencing nature was important to them.
  • For 2/3 of both Democrats and Republicans, career success was a priority.
  • About 4 in 10 from each party said community involvement was a priority.

This research provides a (self) reminder that in spite of the heated political rhetoric, Democrats and Republicans in the USA are more alike than different.

And on areas of significant difference, our distillation can be reduced to two words: religiosity and curiosity. In general, Republican’s policy choices are more likely to be framed by the influences of religion and Democrats are more expansive in their policy interests with a great appreciation for the abstract or intangible, and broader definition of “community” to them.

  • Republicans are 21% more likely than Democrats to say practicing one’s faith should be among the top priorities (61% to 40%).
  • Democrats are 17% more likely to say participation in creative activities such as music, art or writing should be a high priority (52% to 35%).
  • Democrats are also 14% more likely to say that involvement in social or political causes is an important priority (35% to 21%).

Great thinkers going back at least as far as Immanuel Kant have wrestled with explanations of the motivations behind political behavior. There’s also a rich history of 21st-century academic literature by political and social psychologists explaining and even predicting partisan political behaviors based on personality traits and/or value systems.

This has implications on our civic life, in ways that benefit liberals. In recent cycles, liberals have been much likelier to donate money (see Obama and Biden’s huge advantages among small-dollar donors), attend protests and rallies, express political opinions on social media, and contact their elected officials. And while Democratic overperformance in recent midterms and special elections has other explanations—Trump, Dobbs, etc.—it may be the case that Democrats just care more about politics these days, giving them an electoral advantage relative to their actual numbers.


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