Politics and Public Opinion, Polls

The polls: Love and politics

Image Credit: shutterstock

Image Credit: shutterstock

Does it matter to you how your sweetheart votes?

Last year, 55% of registered voters told Fox News that it was very or somewhat important to find someone who shared their political views when choosing someone to be their Valentine, while 26% said it wasn’t important at all.  Fifty-one percent said it was important in 2012. When the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) asked people last year about possible problems in a marriage or in a romantic relationship, 17% said it was a major problem when the couple had different political views, 46% a minor problem, and 34% not a problem at all.

Love at first sight?

When CBS asked adults in 2010 and 2012 whether they believed in love at first sight, the responses were similar. Forty-six percent in 2010 and 48% in 2012 said they did.

Meeting up

When PRRI asked people in a relationship or marriage, how they met their partner, 35% said through friends and family, 18% said through work, 17% school, 8% a bar, and almost that many, 6%, at church. Four percent said they had met their significant other through an online dating site.

How we celebrate

When PRRI asked people how they planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day, 54% said they were very or somewhat likely to go out to dinner, 33% watch a romantic comedy, 42% go to bed early, and 47% said they were somewhat or very likely to have sex. A January 2014 CBS poll found that 52% think that flowers make the best Valentine’s Day gift, though 8% believe that lingerie or underwear is the best.

Speaking of sex

We recently looked at the long time series the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) on the acceptability of premarital, extramarital, and same-sex partner relationships. In 2012, the last time NORC asked the question about premarital sex, 21% said it is always wrong, 5% almost always wrong, 15% wrong only sometimes, and 56% not wrong at all. As for sexual relations of people of the same sex, 43% said it is always wrong, 3% almost always wrong, 7% wrong only sometimes, and 42% not wrong at all. In most polls today, around half say that they favor gay marriage. Attitudes in NORC’s question about extramarital sexual activity are very tough.  Eighty-one percent say it is always wrong.

Love in the 1960s

In 1963, sociologist Ira Reiss commissioned NORC to conduct a wide-ranging survey that included questions on whether kissing, petting, or full sexual intercourse were acceptable before marriage for men, and separately, for women. Slightly more than 80% strongly agreed or agreed that kissing was acceptable before marriage when a male and, separately, a female were “in love.” In another question, 37% agreed that “petting” was acceptable before marriage for a female in love. Forty-three percent gave that response for a male in love. When asked about full sexual relations before marriage for a female in love, just 9% in 1963 strongly agreed or agreed that this was acceptable. The proportion giving that response for a male was 11%. When asked the same series of questions about a man or women who was “engaged,” the responses were similar and there was no double standard. Ten percent strongly agreed or agreed that full sexual relations were acceptable for an engaged female. Twelve percent gave that response for men.

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