If You Want To Be Happy For The Rest of Your Life… Be a Republican

October 28, 2008 | 6 2 min read

According to a new PEW Research Poll published last week, Republicans are still – in spite of the nation’s economic woes, their epically unpopular current president, and their party’s doubtful prospects for the upcoming election – happier than Democrats: 37% of Republicans versus 25% of Democrats consider themselves “very happy” – and more of them have been “very happy” since research on the subject began in 1972. While I have always suspected that a melancholic disposition is the first cause of Leftist political thought (see Why So Serious: Batman and the Intellectuals), I nonetheless find it disturbing to see this impression quantified in tidy pie graphs on the PEW website.

But perhaps I should be gratified to have hard evidence of the truth of my suspicion that a basic dispositional division between people is the source of our two parties: fundamentally optimistic people, believing in the power of the individual human will and spirit to triumph at last over all obstacles, become Republicans; fundamentally pessimistic people (some might also call them realists), who recognize how powerless the individual can be against institutions and larger social forces, become Democrats.

My theories, however, are for another day. The PEW report stresses that being Republican does not actually cause happiness, but it does find that setting aside all other extenuating factors that tend to increase happiness (money, being married, being healthy), a Republican is more likely than a Democrat to be very happy. And the report finds that more Republicans have more of the things that make people happy (And I quote):

  • They have more money.
  • They have more friends.
  • They are more religious.
  • They are healthier.
  • They are more likely to be married.
  • They like their communities more.
  • They like their jobs more.
  • The are more satisfied with their family life.
  • They like the weather better.
  • They have fewer financial worries.
  • They are more likely to see themselves doing better in life than their parents did.
  • They’re more like to feel that individuals – rather than outside forces – control their own success or failure.
  • They have more of what they most value in life. (No, it’s not money.)

So, while the Democrats may win the White House in a few weeks time, they are and will be still, it seems, losers in the art of getting happy.

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Virginia. She is a winner of the Virginia Quarterly's Young Reviewers Contest and has a doctorate from Stanford. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Times, In Character, VQR, Arts & Letters Daily, and The Daily Dish.


  1. Actually, they've been collecting this data since 1972 and even during the Clinton years, Republicans were happier than Democrats.

  2. The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

    –George Bernard Shaw

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