A University of Virginia sociologist who's not convinced that liberal families are better off than conservative ones has what he says is more data to back up his theory. W. Bradford Wilcox says that not only do families who live in "red" conservative counties "enjoy somewhat stronger families" than those who live in "blue" liberal counties: He's also analyzed data about individual families, not just geographical areas, and finds that self-identified Republicans are more likely than self-identified Democrats to be married and less likely to be divorced, the New York Times reports. And of married people between the ages of 20 and 60 polled in the survey on the Institute of Family Studies website, Wilcox found that 67% of GOPers reported they were "very happy" in matrimony, while only 60% of Democrats were, and 60% of independents. The gap did shrink to three percentage points once certain other demographic factors were taken into account (e.g., whites and religious people were more likely to say they have happy marriages).
However, Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones that we should probably "call it a tie" instead, since the study was done for a right-wing website—"You have to figure it's as friendly toward Republicans as possible," he notes—and because Republicans may simply be less likely to admit when their marriages are rocky. "As Wilcox says, 'Perhaps Republicans are more optimistic, more charitable, or more inclined to look at their marriages through rose-colored glasses,'" Drum points out. But David Leonhardt writes for the Times that "it also seems possible that the more respect and even reverence for the idea of marriage in conservative communities affects people's behavior and attitudes toward their marriages," adding that, "given the widespread anxiety right now about upward mobility … it's worth looking for potential lessons from any political ideology." (A stunning 99% of evangelical Christians said they were happy a few years back.)