It is two weeks until election day and the presidential candidates, their campaigns, and their supporters have invested huge amounts of time and money to win our votes, but what ultimately sways us to pick one candidate over another?
Political scientists have focused on the impact of a wide variety of factors that affect voting behaviors, including where we live, and the influence of parents and peers, along with community and religious leaders. More recently, there has also been a greater consideration of the idea that our political leanings could be influenced by genetics.
The Takeaway talks with Kara Miller, the host of WGBH’s Innovation Hub, about the latest research concerning politics and genetics, and discusses the work of Rose McDermott and Peter Hatemi, the editors of "Man Is by Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology and Politics."
McDermott believes that we are increasingly sorting ourselves by our political leanings, and told Miller:
"We hang out with people we like and we avoid people we don’t like, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we punch people in the face if we don’t like them, but we may avoid going to lunch with them, or we me avoid living around them, or whatever it happens to be, and you see phenomenon like gated communities that are just a physical instantiation of that."
Miller says that twins offer a good opportunity to test these hypotheses: "The question is, how do you test this kind of thing?…It turns out that people who are identical twins vote a lot more like each other than fraternal twins."