Have Elections Gone to the Dogs?

Suzanne Murray
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bo barack obama
Flickr photo by Embajada de Estados Unidos en Bolivia
Forgot all those photo ops with cute babies -- if you want to win an election, get a dog.

Diana Mutz, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, studied the influence of dog ownership on voter preferences in the 2008 presidential election. She found that dog owners were, on the whole, more likely to support a candidate with a dog.

In 2008, that candidate was Republican nominee John McCain, whose dog ownership had been well publicized. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was still dog-less (he promised to get his daughters a dog once the election was over).

Mutz says she was surprised to find that a relationship between dog ownership and candidate support still existed after taking into account all possible factors influencing voter preferences -- party affiliation, perceptions of the economy, and demographic differences such as education, age, location, and religious beliefs.

"The implication of the analysis is that Obama could've had more support if he’d had a dog and trotted it out in front of the television cameras," she said.

While there's no rational correlation between dog ownership and presidential potential, it seems that dog owners simply identify with other dog owners, and thus had a subconscious preference for McCain.

I don't know about you, but I'm about to send a puppy to all my favorite candidates.

Are you a dog owner? Do the results of the study hold true for you?

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