(Photography by emdot,CC BY 2.0;  graphic by Joy Olivia Miller)

Political animals

Partisan beliefs shape perceptions of reality.

Partisanship exerts powerful influence over voters’ perceptions of reality—and not just on a national scale. In the weeks leading up to the 2012 election, researchers from NORC at the University of Chicago surveyed 2,136 Americans and found that political opinions influenced people’s beliefs about the state of their own pocketbooks.

Strong Republicans were 36 percent more likely than strong Democrats to say their economic fortunes had declined over the past year under President Barack Obama. Seventy-eight percent of respondents who reported improved family finances were Democrats; 64 percent of those who said their economic circumstances had deteriorated were Republicans.

“Family finances would seem to be objective facts that are impervious to partisan influences—respondents actually see the income flowing in and the expenses flowing out,” NORC researchers wrote. “Not so.”­



Perceptions about family finances, graphed.