appy Fourth of July... if you're a Republican. That's one takeaway from a recent Harvard study by political scientist David Yanagizawa-Drott and economist Andreas Madestam. They found that attending Fourth of July parades makes you more likely to identify as a Republican, vote Republican, vote period, and give money to political causes. Conservatives are jumping on the study as Ivy League–certified proof that Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats — or that liberal eggheads are plotting to do away with our national birthday. What does the study really say? Here, a brief guide:
What does July 4 have to do with the GOP?
The researchers concluded that "the political Right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century," and that nowadays, "there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican Party." And since Republicans tend to be more invested in the celebrations, GOP-dominated areas have "more politically biased" parades that "socialize children into Republicans."
How much does July 4 boost the GOP?
Significantly. Children who attend at least one rain-free Fourth of July parade before age 18 are at least 2 percent more likely to identify as Republican in adulthood, 4 percent more likely to vote Republican by age 40, about 1 percent more likely to vote at all, and 3 percent more generous with campaign contributions. Yanagizawa-Drott says he and Madestam were surprised that childhood experiences with July 4 celebrations appeared to have "a permanent impact on political beliefs and behavior."
How did they come up with those numbers?
By studying the weather, and taking the expression "rain on your parade" literally. Since rain either cancels a Fourth of July parade or slashes attendance, the researchers looked at historical weather data, using the randomness of rain to correct for other influences on children who attend the parades, like family and education. Then they compared this data to political beliefs and actions later in life.
Is this study believable?
Of course, Republicans are "more patriotic that Democrats," says John Hinderaker at PowerLine. But Fourth of July parades turning your kids into Republicans seems "far-fetched." It makes sense to me, says Doug Powers at The Powers That Be. What's more Republican than our "American flag waving, tradition embracing, God fearing, gun firing, bomb exploding, US military appreciating celebrations of the founding of the United States of America"? No, I call "bullsh*t" on this "ridiculous" study, says Janet Shan at The Hinterland Gazette. Seriously, "I would love to know who paid to fund" it, and what better use they could have put their money to.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why Easter is so important to Christians
- When will the Big One strike California?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Entrepreneurs: A dying breed?
- Why would a young person today be religious?
Subscribe to the Week