Beyond questioning whether marriage is obsolete, Pew Research’s latest study sheds further light into why marital status can be an interesting political demographic cut. Pew finds marriage declining across demographic groups, with the most precipitous among less well-educated voters. In 1960, there was only a 4-point difference in marriage rates of college-educated Americans and those with no more than a high school diploma. By 2008, this gap widened to 16 points.
Family makeup also varies by party. Pew found more married Republicans (67%) than Democrats (45%). And when it comes to evaluating different trends in family makeup (such as children born outside of marriage, or gay and lesbian couples raising children), Pew notes “Republicans are consistently more critical than Democrats.” (The full report is an interesting read on this point.)
According to post-election research by GQRR, unmarried women gave Democrats double-digit advantages the last three cycles. But it’s important to remember the Pew findings when we think about marital status as a political demographic. Marital status is unlikely to be the cause of Democratic performance. Instead, the characteristics that lead to Democratic tendencies are also related to marital status. “Correlation does not imply causation” applies yet again.