If ever an NY Times article rang true for my life it is this one. (Let’s just say that my wife and I have very little in common as far as our voting preferences are concerned and that is putting it mildly!)
When Pat Rosend received a “Vote” flier from Democrats, she stuck it on her refrigerator door.
Her husband, Dave, who has always voted Republican, drew an “X” over the Democratic congressman depicted on the flier with President Obama.
Yet Mr. Rosend says he remains “on the fence” about whether he will vote for Mitt Romney — and cancel out his wife’s strong support for Mr. Obama.
The Rosends illustrate a little-scrutinized variable of the campaign’s results: the influence that spouses can have on each other’s voting decisions.
In a skintight presidential race, pillow talk and kitchen-table discussions could make a difference to each party’s bid to close its gender gap in battlegrounds like Colorado, Ohio and Virginia. In this week’s New York Times/CBS News poll — a dead heat among likely voters with 48 percent for Mr. Obama and 47 percent for Mr. Romney — the Republican challenger had support from 51 percent of men but just 44 percent of women, while the Democratic incumbent held the backing of 52 percent of women but just 44 percent of men.
As those still undecided make up their minds this final weekend, “conversations people have with their spouses will be at least as important as all the TV ads people are seeing,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster for Democrats.
Those who have studied political dynamics within households say that roughly three-fourths of married couples vote the same way. Because people seek spouses with similar values, they typically have similar political views to begin with. But couples who disagree, said Paul Allen Beck, a political scientist at Ohio State University, usually make at least a cursory attempt to resolve their differences. It is a factor both parties take into account in their data-driven process of identifying and mobilizing potential supporters.
Obama campaign organizers consider the political orientation of a spouse among the characteristics most predictive of where an undecided voter will end up. Michael Meyers of TargetPoint Consulting, a firm that helps Mr. Romney with voter turnout, said the political views of a Republican’s spouse help determine whether and how a household gets courted, both for purposes of locking down its support and for ensuring that its members actually vote.
The firm’s database might show that the spouse of a gun-rights supporter holds a different view on that issue, for example. If so, Mr. Meyers said, the household might receive anti-tax rather than “Second Amendment” literature in support of the Republican ticket. [...]
There are three major differences between my wife and I’s household and the Rosends; I know without a shadow of a doubt who I am voting for, there is no “fence-sitting,” the second is that if we do discuss politics it usually ends with me sleeping on the couch, and the third is my secret lifelong goal of converting my more than leftist wife into a moderate Republican.
Hey…I don’t have two lifetimes, this is the best I can hope for!
- In Defense of the Undecided – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- NBC’s Ohio Poll: 45% of Likely Voters Conservative, 23% Liberal–And Obama’s Up 6 (cnsnews.com)
- Both parties claim early-voting edge (tbo.com)