People cast their ballots based on their pocketbooks, as the 2016 presidential election proved. Millions of financially frustrated people turned up at the polls and voted for Donald Trump, convinced Republicans would do a better job of improving the economy than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Unsurprisingly, post-election surveys found those Republican voters were more optimistic about the financial future than Democrats, who tended to view the coming four years with a sense of impending doom. And the links between politics and our money (and how we feel about it) don’t end there. As a bloc, Republicans tend to earn more money and be more financially secure than Democrats. But at the core, Democrats and Republicans might have more in common than they realize.
Despite the massive political divide in this country, Republicans and Democrats share many of the same financial concerns, according to a 2016 Lincoln Financial Group survey. People in both groups were equally likely to say they were struggling to save money, not doing a great job of planning for retirement, and doing just an OK job of managing day-to-day finances. A CreditCards.com survey found Clinton and Trump supporters tended to have roughly the same number of credit cards (three each, on average) and to be equally likely to owe money on those cards or have made a late payment in the past two years.
Republicans and Democrats might share some of the same financial struggles, but their money behavior does diverge in other key ways. From your feelings about the value of a college degree to your approach to the stock market, here are 10 surprising ways voting Republican predicts how you manage your money.
1. You’re less likely to complain to customer service
What do you do when your bank screws you over on fees or your new computer stops working three days after you bring it home from the store? If your instinct is to suck it up and deal with it, you might be a Republican. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found conservatives were less likely to file complaints than liberals. If they did complain, they were less inclined to dispute the way their grievance was resolved.
Squeaky-wheel consumers were less likely to engage in “system justification,” Pacific Standard reported. Conservatives, however, are more likely to value the status quo and thus have a tendency “to justify the appropriateness and rights of the existing system, even if it leaves [them] at a disadvantage,” the study’s authors wrote. That translates into fewer complaints, even in cases where they might be justified.
2. You don’t like to buy generics
Voted for Trump? Then, your grocery cart might be filled with name-brand products rather than generics. In 2013, researchers at New York University analyzed data on supermarket purchases and compared it to local political leanings. They found shoppers in conservative counties favored name-brand products, even after accounting for income and education levels. They also were less likely to try new products than consumers in more liberal areas.
Conservatives’ aversion to risk accounted for the difference in shopping habits, according to the study authors. “These tendencies are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about new experiences, and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo,” they wrote in their paper, published in the journal Psychological Science.
3. You might not think college is a good investment
Pretty much everyone agrees rising college tuition is a problem, but Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say college isn’t a good investment at current prices, a Bankrate survey conducted prior to the 2016 presidential election found. A separate Bankrate survey found Republicans were also much less likely than Democrats and independents to support free college for all.
Bankrate’s research found people with degrees were more likely to see the value of higher education than those who hadn’t been to college. Democrats outnumber Republicans among degree-holders, according to Pew Research, which could explain the different in the value assigned to earning a bachelor’s degree.
4. You probably spent more money on your house
Republicans are more likely to be homeowners than Democrats, and the homes they buy tend to be worth more, an analysis of data on consumers in key swing states by InfoGroup found. The average Republican family’s home was worth $201,000, compared to $158,000 for Democrats. The gap in home values makes sense when you consider Republicans also had higher average incomes and higher net worth than Democrats.
5. You’re more likely to go solar
Leaders in the Republican Party might deny climate change, but Republican voters are energy-efficiency enthusiasts. Surveys have found Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have made energy-saving home upgrades, such as installing solar panels, low-flow toilets, or better home insulation. It all comes down to money. Budget-conscious conservatives know those home upgrades will save them cash, regardless of whether they’re convinced global warming is real. Democrats, for their part, are more likely to recycle or buy organic foods than their Republican neighbors.
6. You prefer a DIY approach to home improvement
Republican homeowners looking to cut their water bill by installing a low-flow toilet might also try to save money in another way: doing the work themselves rather than hiring a pro. Sixty percent of Republicans HomeAdvisor surveyed said they preferred to save money by tackling home improvements themselves rather than hiring a professional, compared to 40% of Democrats. And Democrats also tended to spend more on their home upgrades than Republicans.
7. You donate to different charities
It’s hardly surprising your political affiliation influences the charities you support. But the relationship between your voting habits and charitable giving goes beyond whether you support the ACLU or the NRA.
For one, people in red states tend to be more generous overall than those in blue states, largely because they have higher incomes and give more money to their church, research has found. But conservatives’ political leanings affect which secular nonprofits they support, too, sometimes in subtle ways. When researchers at Rice University tweaked the description of a charity’s mission to focus on conservative values, such as supporting traditional working families, Republicans were more likely to donate. Democrats were more likely to open their wallets when the same charity’s mission was described in terms of increasing equality, such as offering a safe home to all people.
8. You’re more likely to invest in stocks
Republicans are more likely than Democrats or independents to invest in the stock market, according to a Gallup poll. Sixty-four percent of Republicans owned stocks in 2011, compared to just half of Democrats. Bankrate found Democrats preferred to put their money into savings accounts and CDs, as opposed to Republicans, who liked to invest. Republicans were also more likely to be aggressive investors than Democrats, according to InfoGroup’s analysis of consumer data.
9. You’re more likely to buy insurance
Safety and security are top-of-mind issues for many Republican voters, who are 31% more likely to have purchased multiple types of insurance products, according to InfoGroup. But a desire to protect their money doesn’t mean Republicans aren’t adventure seekers. These voters are also more likely to participate in activities, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, or whitewater rafting, the same analysis found. Perhaps a penchant for extreme sports explains the need for a little extra insurance coverage?
10. You’re more likely to save than spend
Americans on the whole aren’t great about saving money. Only 30% have more than $1,000 set aside, according to GoBankingRates. But Democrats are more likely than Republicans to have nothing in savings, Bankrate found. While higher-earning Republicans might find it easier to save than Democrats, differences in income might not entirely explain the difference in account balances. Over half of conservative voters Gallup polled said they preferred saving over spending. Among Democrats, more than half saying they’d rather spend than save.