Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. James Carville and Mary Matalin. And until recently, John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry. The common thread among these well-known married couples is that one spouse is (or was, in Heinz Kerry's case) a supporter of the Republican Party and the other is a supporter of the Democratic Party. But when it comes to politics among most Americans, do opposites attract, or do birds of a feather nest together? A recent Gallup Poll sought to find out whether couples are more likely to agree or disagree in their 2004 presidential votes.
In addition to asking all respondents whom they would vote for if the presidential election were held today, the Oct. 14-16 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll* asked registered voters who are married or living with a partner to say for whom their spouses or partners are voting. Fifty-five percent of registered voters who are married or living with a partner say they personally are voting for George W. Bush, while 40% are supporting Kerry. Forty-nine percent of registered voters who are married or living together say their spouse or partner is voting for Bush, 33% say their spouse or partner is voting for Kerry, and 13% are unsure. The remaining 5% say their spouse or partner will not vote or will be supporting a third-party candidate for president.
The fact that Bush has a significant lead among couples is consistent with Gallup's polling this year. Married Americans are much more likely to support Bush than Kerry. For example, in a recent poll, 59% of married registered voters say they prefer Bush, while 37% prefer Kerry. Meanwhile, unmarried Americans favor Kerry by a wide margin -- 56% to 38%.
The results clearly suggest that most couples agree in their voting preference and will be supporting the Republican ticket this year. A closer analysis of the data shows that 74% of couples agree on their choice of presidential candidates and only 7% disagree. That 74% breaks down into 45% Bush couples and 29% Kerry couples. The remaining 19% of couples include couples in which one of the spouses currently has no preference or does not plan to vote at all.
When limiting the analysis only to couples in which both partners plan to vote and both have a voting preference, 91% of those couples will agree on their vote choice this year and only 9% will disagree. The 91% of couples with common voting preferences include 55% Bush duos and 36% Kerry duos. The 9% of disagreeing couples include 8% in which the couple is divided between Bush and Kerry, 1% in which the couple is divided between Bush and some other candidate, and less than 1% in which the couple is divided between Kerry and some other candidate.
To determine how in tune committed Americans are to their partners' voting preferences, the survey also asked respondents how certain they are that their spouse or partner will support the candidate they named. The vast majority of respondents who expressed a preference for their significant other, 93%, are certain that their spouse or partner will support the candidate they named, while just 7% are uncertain. This would suggest that couples are fairly open in discussing their voting preferences.
Committed couples are more likely to have similar voting preferences this year. While it will happen to some degree, relatively few couples will effectively cancel each other's vote out. The vast majority of couples instead will add two votes to their candidates' column, and the plurality of married couples will cast two votes for the Republican ticket this year.
*Results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected sample of 1,103 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 14-16, 2004.For results based on the sample of 597 registered voters who are married or living with a partner, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.