Republicans: Party of the Mentally Healthy

Gallup reports that, to a remarkable degree, Republicans are more likely than other Americans to say that their own mental health is excellent. Democrats are more likely than others to say that their mental health is fair or poor. Here are the basic numbers; click to enlarge:

One’s first instinct might be to assume that this difference stems from the fact that Republicans are generally better educated, earn more money, and are more likely to be churchgoers than Democrats. But Gallup shows that even if one controls for those variables, the same striking difference exists: Republicans in all demographic categories report better mental health than Independents, and much better mental health than Democrats.
No one who frequents political sites on the internet will be surprised by these data. More broadly, though, Gallup’s results are consistent with other surveys that have shown that Republicans (conservatives) are happier than Democrats (liberals). It is not surprising that happy people are more likely to report good or excellent mental health, and it is fair to say that liberalism is often a response to unhappiness.
This all makes sense. Any trial lawyer will attest that there is a strong correlation between a juror’s happiness and the likelihood that he will tend to favor plaintiffs or defendants in litigation. Unhappy people are angry at the world; they think the world is a bad place and needs to be changed; they don’t want to accept responsibility for their own problems and therefore prefer to talk about governmental solutions; they are often jealous of those who are happier and more successful than themselves, and try to use the government to exact revenge. Happy people are unlikely to feel the same determination to enlist the government on their behalf.
So if you’re a Republican, the message is mixed: you’re probably happier and healthier than your Democratic neighbors, but you’re also less likely to be passionate about imposing your political views on others.
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