July 4th Parades Only Energize Republicans?

Paul Bedard at U.S. News & World Report passed along a new study that suggests that celebrating Independence Day is a Republican-boosting activity. While liberals and Democrats can have a tendency to skip patriotic rituals (or drop "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, eh, NBC?), a little patriotism apparently makes one lean to the right:

Democratic political candidates can skip this weekend's July 4th parades. A new Harvard University study finds that July 4th parades energize only Republicans, turn kids into Republicans, and help to boost the GOP turnout of adults on Election Day.

"Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation's political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party," said the report from Harvard.

"The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century. Survey evidence also confirms that Republicans consider themselves more patriotic than Democrats. According to this interpretation, there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically biased events that socialize children into Republicans," write Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam.

Bedard cited three key findings of those attending July 4th celebrations, although the effect sounds marginal:

-- When done before the age of 18, it increases the likelihood of a youth identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent.

-- It raises the likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a Republican candidate by 4 percent.

-- It boosts the likelihood a reveler will vote by about 1 percent and increases the chances they'll make a political contribution by 3 percent.

What's more, the impact isn't fleeting. "Surprisingly, the estimates show that the impact on political preferences is permanent, with no evidence of the effects depreciating as individuals become older,"said the Harvard report.

Finally, the report suggests that if people are looking for a super-patriotic July 4th, though should head to Republican towns. "Republican adults celebrate Fourth of July more intensively in the first place."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis