November 20, 2018

Most say their family is OK with discussing politics – but it helps if the family agrees

(Evy Mages for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Most say their family is OK with talking politics, but 40% try to avoid the subjectAs Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, most U.S. adults (59%) say their family is OK with talking about politics, while 40% say they try to avoid the subject. But the willingness of families to engage in political talk is tied to their level of political agreement, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Nov. 7-13, 2018.

Overall, a majority of Americans say they have at least some common ground politically with their family. A 64% majority of Americans say most or all of their family members share their political views – yet relatively few people (22%) say “almost everyone” in their family shares their political views. About a third overall say “a few” family members (26%) or “almost no one” in their family (9%) shares their political views. (In this survey, respondents were asked about occasions when they get together with family members other than those they live with.)

People’s perceptions about how many family members share their political views – and their family’s comfort level with discussing politics – have changed little since December 2016, shortly after the presidential election.

As was the case then, partisan differences in these views are slight: Today, two-thirds (67%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 63% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say most or almost everyone in their family shares their political views. And 61% of Republicans and 58% of Democrats say their family is OK with talking about politics.

Families that share political views are more open to talking about politicsAmong those who say almost everyone in their family shares their political views (22% of the public), an overwhelming share (82%) says their family is comfortable talking about politics. Yet the share of adults who say their family is OK with political discussions decreases among those who say there is less agreement in their family on politics.

About two-thirds of those of who say most of their family members share their political views (65%) say their family is OK with talking about politics; that’s 17 percentage points lower than among those who say almost everyone agrees with their views. Around four-in-ten (42%) of those who say a few members share their political views say their family is OK with discussing politics – but that share falls to just 28% among those who say almost no one in their family shares their views on politics.

Note: See full topline results and methodology here (PDF). 

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Family and Relationships

  1. Photo of Baxter Oliphant

    is a research associate focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.