Research out of Cornell University indicates that voters’ intentions at the ballot box are affected by seeing the nation’s flag. In an experiment, a pool of paid volunteers were asked to complete three separate surveys about their political leanings in the 2008 presidential election. Two of the surveys were given before the election and one was given afterwards; the first survey was blank while the second and third had an image of the American flag at the top. Responses to the survey with the nation’s flag leaned more heavily toward the republican party.
What’s the Big Idea?
The Cornell study is one in a series that has recently challenged the rationality of our political decisions, which we typically assume to be the result of rational deliberation. During the 2008 presidential election, when lapel pins of the American flag were all the rage, then-candidate Obama did not wear one. Pressed by the press, Obama said his patriotism was pinned to his heart. Still, says The Economist, perhaps if he had worn one, people would not associate the national flag with the Republican party.