Inside the Capitol

Thursday, April 20, 2006

4-24 Are Republicans Happier than Democrats?

MON, 4-24-06

MAUI -- Are Republicans happier than Democrats? That's what a recent posting on the state Republican Web site contends. It cites good authority and it seems to contradict an observation I recently made.
In one of my recent columns, I commented that Democrats had more fun than Republicans at their recent state preprimary nominating conventions.
I based that on reports that Democrats did much yelling and shouting and left their convention hall a mess, while Republicans actually ate a sit-down luncheon while conducting their meeting.
I didn't make it to this year's conventions, but having attended meetings of both parties for decades, I see nothing unusual about this year's reports.
Democrats do have a tendency to be more boisterous and spontaneous while Republican tend toward proper demeanor and observance of rules. It is predictable that Democrats will walk on the grass, won't stand in line and will leave their convention hall ankle-deep in campaign literature.
Obviously, those are stereotypes. There must be some Republican who don't color between the lines. And even Republicans enjoy poking a little fun at themselves for being proper.
Decades ago, when Hoyt Pattison, of Curry County, was House Republican leader, his speeches included a humorous routine about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. He was good enough to give me a copy even though he knew I wanted to steal his jokes.
Those jokes are still filed somewhere and became popular on the Internet several years ago. The only one I remember right now is that Republican boys date Democrat girls because they figure they're entitled to a little fun before they marry Republican girls. The rest of the jokes are in a similar vein.
I once wrote a column about the difference between Democrat and Republican campaign parties. I had Republicans standing around sipping martinis and making big donations and Democrats throwing chile suppers for five bucks a person, children free. You could always expect loud music, mariachis and probably a fight in the parking lot before the party was over.
But now comes a reply from the Republicans. On the Web site I noticed a link titled "Republicans Happier than Democrats." I happened to read it on April 1, so assumed it was a joke.
Republicans do like to play jokes, I have discovered. During Republican Hal Stratton's second year as state attorney general in 1988, he wrote an opinion, distributed to Capitol press, that was pure fantasy. Everyone but this columnist took it seriously. I made it the subject of a column and Hal and I had some fun with it.
Then I noticed that the date on which "Republicans Happier than Democrats" was posted. It was February 28. So I felt confident that my leg wasn't being pulled, this time. I still wasn't sure, however, that this wasn't just some propaganda designed to imbue Republicans with a personality.
But it was attributed to the Pew Research Center, a reputable, non-partisan organization. It revealed that 45 percent of all Republicans it surveyed reported being very happy, compared with 30 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents.
What? Well, it must be because they're wealthier and they control the federal government. But, no. The study controlled for that. Republicans are happier even when Democrats are in power. And rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats and poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats, according to the report.
So what's the explanation for this phenomenon? State GOP communications director, Jonah Cohen, offered the following answer on the party Web site.
"Philosophically, the conservative temperament tends to expect less from government and politicians, and that means he is less likely to despair when things don't work out and more likely to be grateful when they do."
Other than a little grammatical disagreement there, Cohen may be on to something. Maybe we're both right. Is it possible that Republicans are happier even though they don't kick up their heels quite as much as Democrats?

There will be no column for WED, 4-26. Will resume on 4-28.


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