Dating across the aisle is difficult in the age of Trump

Daniel A. Cox February 10, 2020

Former AEI President Arthur Brooks made an impassioned plea for Americans to excise contempt from our national debate at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. At the event, held only 24 hours after a contentious, divided Senate voted to acquit President Trump on two impeachment charges, Brooks challenged the audience to raise their hand if they had people in their lives who they loved despite their political differences. Nearly every hand “shot up,” leading Brooks to conclude that this is true for just about everyone: “I’m going to round that off to 100 percent.”

But when it comes to dating, loving your enemy is not so easy. The new January American Perspectives Survey finds that politics is creeping into our dating lives and relationships. Few Americans report any one particular issue is a dating deal breaker for them, whether it is abortion or climate change, but Trump has become difficult to avoid. A majority of the public (62 percent) say dating someone whose views of the president did not align with their own would be impossible for them.

Not all Americans are equally likely to say Trump is a factor in their dating decisions. Women, particularly Democratic women, are far more likely to refuse to date someone if they have differing views of the president.

Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) Democratic women say they would be unwilling to date someone whose view of Trump contrasted with their own. For Republican men, Trump is much less of an issue. About half (52 percent) of Republican men say they would be willing to date someone even if they disagreed in their views of the president. Forty-eight percent say it would be a deal breaker for them.

In some ways, it’s not surprising that Trump has intruded into our dating lives. Through social media, nonstop news coverage, and a steady barrage of controversial comments, Trump has made himself an omnipresent feature of American public life. He has become nearly impossible to ignore. And compared to past presidents, Trump inspires very strong feelings — on both sides. The overwhelming majority of Americans report having strong feelings about the president. Seven in 10 Americans have a very favorable (26 percent) or a very unfavorable (44 percent) opinion of Trump.

Despite this, few Americans believe that political differences will necessarily doom a relationship. Americans believe that disagreements over finances and children are more pressing concerns for couples than politics. But Brooks cautions that — as many Americans already know and some are finding out — “the devil is in the details.”

Survey Reports

A help wanted sign is posted at a taco stand in Solana Beach, California, U.S., July 17, 2017.

Brent Orrell, Daniel A. Cox
July 15, 2021

The great American jobs reshuffle

The June 2021 American Perspectives Survey (APS) finds that people’s work arrangements and preferences, unemployment experiences, and career aspirations are changing as workers navigate the new post-pandemic labor market.

3 friends having coffee time on a terrace

Daniel A. Cox
June 8, 2021

The state of American friendship: Change, challenges, and loss

The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey finds that Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.

Daniel A. Cox
March 4, 2021

Social isolation and community disconnection are not spurring conspiracy theories

New analysis from the January 2021 American Perspectives Survey shows that having an active social life and regular engagement with people in your neighborhood does not inoculate against believing in conspiracies.

Daniel A. Cox
February 11, 2021

After the ballots are counted: Conspiracies, political violence, and American exceptionalism

The January 2021 American Perspectives Survey looks at post-election sentiments, beliefs in conspiracies, attitudes toward political violence, political segregation, and general feelings toward the United States.