The following is a guest post from Dr. Will Jennings, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Southampton. A modified version is cross-posted on the Politics Upside Down blog.
Happy holidays from The Monkey Cage!
A question that has been sadly neglected by political scientists is Santa Claus’ partisan sympathies. We know a little, however, about whether Santa is seen as being on the left or the right of the political spectrum, or whether he transcends the partisan divide. In a Zogby poll of 1,043 adults in the US (in December 2001), respondents were asked:
In your opinion if Santa Claus was a registered voter, what political party would he most likely support?
Some 26% thought Santa would be a Democrat supporter (perhaps reflecting his ties to to social welfare), while just 15% thought Santa would be a Republican (keeping in mind Santa only brings presents for children have been good each year, suggesting a strict social conservatism behind his charitable facade). Far more, 43%, thought Sanda would be an independent, standing above the partisan rancour of politics (with some 16% unsure). We still don’t know, however, whether Santa’s schedule for this year includes a stop-off in Congress to solve the partisan impasse over the ‘fiscal cliff’, with hard-line elements of the Republican Party stubbornly refusing a compromise.
Santa has sadly not been immune to the growing polarization of US politics in recent years. In December 1998, Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked a similar question “Do you think Santa Claus would be a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?”. In contrast, just 9% of people thought Santa would be a Democrat and 6% a Republican, with 62% suggesting he would be an independent. In just three years a quarter of the US public had taken a more polarized stance on poor Santa. It is only a matter of time before polarization occurs in judging who has been naughty and who has been nice.