What do pets say about our politics?

Polls say there are partisan differences between cat and dog owners. What do your pets say about your politics? Photo: A cat and a dog

FLORIDA, September 9, 2012 — Politics have become more and more divisive.

Indeed, politics can influence your social circle, where you live, and even your career choices. Considering this, it should be no surprise that pets make a political statement as well.

How do dog owners vote? Do they vote differently from people owned by cats? I have written that, as a member of America’s non-animal-owning minority, I had no idea. In leftish urban, centrist suburban, and right-leaning rural areas, many people own both cats and dogs. Perhaps my question is based on flawed premises.

An online search led me to, where else, Freakonomics.com. According to them there really is a difference in partisan registration between cat and dog owners. Citing a Gallup poll released in early 2008, economist Justin Wolfers said 33 percent of dog owners are Republican, while the same can be said for 28 percent of cat owners. Additionally, independents are less likely to own dogs and more likely to own cats.

A partial explanation for these numbers comes from another piece of research mentioned by Wolfers. A University of Texas at Austin study showed that dog owners are more likely to have an outgoing and affable personality. Cat owners, on the other hand, have introverted tendencies, though strangely enough are more expressive. 

This makes sense. People with children are more likely to be Republican, and if you have little ones, then few choices other than being affable and outgoing are available. In addition, a dog is a much more durable, interactive pet for a family with children than a cat is. Singles and childless couples are more likely to be Democrats. Whether these folks are more prone to being introverted is an open question, but a cat is a much more sensible pet for people who want to stay out late or take off on weekends. In other words, it’s more likely to show up in a household without children.

So why do independents prefer cats? That may be fodder for another study.

When I was a child my family owned a loving, outgoing dog names Max. I have fond memories of Max, but currently have no pet. At some point in my life, I may consider getting one. If that happens, I will first consider cats. One of these would probably suit my personality very well, but nonetheless fit poorly with my party affiliation.

Oh, well.

Perhaps the socially centrist positions of we Rockefeller Republicans make us natural companions for cats. Now there’s a sure way of finding common ground with our Democratic friends. 

In any case, I am glad that my question received a definitive answer. Now if only we could work on bringing moderation back from the history books.

Much of this article was first published as Cats, Dogs, Donkeys, and Elephants: What Do Pets Say About Partisan Affiliation? on Blogcritics.org


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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