You see, Uncle Elmer is less interesting to me—and in some ways, less interesting to the emerging science of political ideology—than the committed Democrat who became strongly supportive of George W. What caused that to happen? Indeed, the growing science of politics has uncovered a variety of interventions that can shift liberal people temporarily to the political right.
And notably, none of them seem to have anything substantive to do with policy, or with the widely understood political differences between Democrats and Republicans. Liberals who were not under load—not distracted—wanted to help such people, despite the fact that they were personally responsible for their plight.
But liberals under load were much more like conservatives, appearing to reason that this group of AIDS victims had gotten what they deserved. Cognitive load did not appear to change the view of conservatives in the study.
Alcohol intoxication is not unlike cognitive load, in that it cuts down the capacity for in-depth, nuanced thinking, and privileges economical, quick responses. Sure enough, in a recent study of 85 bar patrons, blood alcohol content was related to increased political conservatism for liberals and conservatives alike.
The drinkers still knew whether they were liberal or conservative, of course. Time Pressure.
This made a political difference: Subjects under time pressure were more likely to endorse conservative terms. For instance, liberals are more likely than conservatives to visit a foreign country when they vacation and more likely to travel by plane when they hit the road.
Those of the liberal persuasion are more likely than conservatives to want to go to the beach to relax, by about 8 points. And they are more likely to favor fine dining, by about 9 points. Conservatives, meanwhile, show a somewhat smaller edge in their preference for fishing and playing golf.
To be clear there are probably a lot of factors driving these differences. Those who identify as liberal also tend to be younger in the data. Those factors could definitely play a role in where and how we vacation.
There's a song by the British rock group “The Who” called “Won't get It's not whether the conservatives or liberals are right that is the problem. Get the best of The Upshot's news, analysis and graphics about politics, adults starting off liberal and slowly becoming more conservative.
But regardless of the underlying reasons, the data speak to the fundamental differences in the United States in between people who identify with either end of the political spectrum. In other words, those deep dissimilarities lay at the root of a lot of the tribalism that has come to define American politics and that has led to liberals and conservatives living in different realities.
To get a sense of how those differences play out, consider two well-known tourist destinations: Park County, Wyoming, the ski area on the eastern edge of Yellowstone Park, and Branson, Missouri, the family-friendly tourist hub in the Ozarks. Park draws heavily from big cities, all of which voted Democratic in the presidential race and many of which are far enough away where air travel is the most likely means of transportation.
The list for Branson features smaller communities, many located close by and several of which voted for President Donald Trump in Clearly, there are. There is still some political cross-pollination in America when we take a break from our lives.