Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Happy Party!

Why aren't you watching the Situation with Tucker Carlson? Yesterday he had the Moscow Cat Circus on his show, today he discussed this interesting story: (reported here by Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times)

Who are the happiest people in America?

Conservative Republicans are among the most joyous, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press, which found that 47 percent of respondents who were both conservative and Republican said they were "very happy."

The survey was specific. This isn't just ho-hum happy. This is emphatically happy.

The group was eclipsed only by well-heeled Republicans with more than $150,000 in annual incomes -- 52 percent were very happy -- and people who attend church at least once a week, with incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Half of them also said they had a happy mind-set.


The findings revealed that the Republican Party has an upbeat history: Republicans have been consistently happier than Democrats every year since the survey began in 1972, with up to a 17 percentage point lead. Republicans topped their rivals by 11 points even during the Carter and Clinton presidencies, according to Pew.

"The GOP happiness edge over Democrats has ebbed and flowed in a pattern that appears unrelated to which party is in political power," the survey said, noting "a significant partisan gap."

28 percent of liberal Democrats were in the "very happy" group; the figure was 31 percent among conservative or moderate Democrats and 45 percent among moderate or liberal Republicans.

Good feelings don't seem to hinge on money, either. Considering household income, "Republicans still have a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats," the survey stated.

For example, 30 percent of Republicans who made less than $30,000 a year were very happy -- compared with 19 percent of Democrats in that income bracket. Among those with annual incomes of more than $75,000, the figures were 52 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

Sorry about the highlighting, once I started I didn't know when to stop!

Anyway, I thought this was fascinating! One thing I've noticed is that the Republicans I know have more faith in their fellow human beings than the Democrats I know. Republicans are less likely to interpret ambiguous behavior as malicious or deceitful than their counter-parts are. (I think my Democratic friends might call this naivete or wishful thinking.) Of course, this doesn't apply across the board, and the exceptions, when they occur (think Bill Clinton and Bill O'Reilly), tend to be conspicuous.


howard said...

I'm a little curious of the definition of happiness. It's a little like love.

Any survey that tries to pre-package such vague terminology for statistical purposes draws my immediate suspicion.

For instance, I am neither Democrat nor Republican, but I would categorize myself as a happy person (in terms of my long term personal outlook). Does that mean I'm satisfied with the state of affairs I see in the world around me? No.

Then as a religious person, I don't see the value in garden-variety "happiness." For what it's worth, I don't think Christ did, either.

But then, I know a lot of fellow Christians (some politically red, some blue) who say they're happy, but their life doesn't bear it out.

Again, I'd like to see a survey on this with strict, clear definitions of happiness. I think it would mean more. And I think you'd find a lot of "happy" people who are deluding themselves with temporal trappings.

Jackie R. said...

Interesting!... very interesting!

Scott said...

Out of curiosity and if it's not offensive to ask, which would you consider yourself to be Kim?

(The Republican or Democrat question, not the happy or unhappy question)

((Though feel free to answer that question as well if you feel like it would help your person to share your current state of emotional wee being in such a public forum))

(((I basically agree with what Howard said about the word happy itself being rather undefined and meaningless)))

((((I consider myself to be a very happy libertarian. I mean I'm happy that I am a libertarian. I'm not all that happy that my daughter had cancer for instance or other troubling events that surround my existence. But I am happy that we have a place to live and a some what emotionally stable family and a pretty large circle of friends that offer support. Though sometimes that support is offered in the form of unsolicited medical advice from people who have never actually diagnosed or treated cancer (let alone thyroid cancer) and then I'm not all that happy about that type of support.))))

(((((But over all I consider myself to be happy.)))))

((((((Actually I would call it content. I would definitely say I am content.))))))

So what the heck is happy anyway?

Scott said...

That's "well" being. It wasn't meant to be a slight at your existential mass.

Kim Traynor said...

Great thoughts Howard! What's the great Dylan quote..."happy is a yuppy word" or something? It's definately a subjective concept. I haven't looked at the study itself, but like you I'd be interested to see how the questions were set up and how the study defined happiness.

Kim Traynor said...

I'm a wee bit happy, hehehe.

Neither a Democrat nor Republican. I think adhereing too strictly to abstract ideals or principles takes adaptability, compromise and efficiency out of government. I basically look for the candidates that are hurting about the same things I am and have a plausible plan to improve the situation.

For example, abortion is one of my "holy discontents" so I look for candidates that want to take humane and reasonable steps to end this problem. (It's hard to find Democrats in this camp, but once in a while you will find one.) Not very sophisticated, I know, but it works for me. :)

Friar Tuck said...

I love the situation with Tucker Carlson, but am a little suspicious of this study.