Pet Ownership and Presidential Voting

Diana Mutz authored a humorous article in the October issue of PS that examines the effect of pet ownership on voting patterns in the 2008 election. The article is meant to be quasi-satirical, but the findings are empirically valid.

Controlling for a range of demographic, economic, and political variables, Professor Mutz found that dog owners were 16% more likely to vote for McCain in the 2008 election. This effect applied only to dog owners. Owning cats, horses, reptiles, birds, fish, or any other pet had no statistically significant effect on a person’s vote choice.

Why might this be the case? President Obama publicly promised his girls a puppy after the election was over, which highlighted the fact that they didn’t own a dog, thus losing support from the dog-owning constituency. Professor Mutz also opines:

Dog owners, on the other hand, might have been drawn more to the emotionally effusive McCain. … Although he seldom drooled on camera, McCain’s reputation as a reckless maverick who spoke his mind all too quickly could have been seen as a boon by dog lovers, who tend to value emotional transparency and straightforward displays of uncensored emotion. If one of the candidates were to jump on you at the door and lick your ear, it would surely be McCain. A smoother, more sophisticated entrance would be expected of Obama.

The full article is available here:

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