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.