Americans say it’s immoral to have an affair and moral to use contraception

Americans agree: It’s immoral to have an affair. Drinking alcohol or using contraception, on the other hand? Nobody cares.

That’s according to the results of a new Pew Research Center survey. Check the chart:

american morality pew 1

Interestingly, infidelity was the only category on that list deemed morally unacceptable by a majority of Americans. Abortion came close, but just under half (49 percent) of people said it was morally unacceptable; nearly a quarter (23 percent) said it wasn’t a moral issue. Using contraception was actually the only item that a majority of Americans said was morally acceptable (rather than splitting between saying something was acceptable and saying something wasn’t a moral issue at all).

If you’re curious how these things break down politically — and maybe you are, maybe that sort of thing deeply interests you, maybe that’s just the kind of thing you like to see and read and ponder and share, in which case who are we to judge, we’re all just living our own lives here — we have some numbers on that, too:

american morality politics pew 2

Much of these numbers won’t be a galloping shock to anybody. (“Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on abortion,” reported the Obvious Times-Gazette of Duhville.) But one number did stand out. There’s just one item on that list that more Democrats than Republicans said was morally unacceptable: Alcohol use.

This follows on two recent bits of research related to drinking and political preferences. In December, the Journal of Wine Economics (owned by the American Association of Wine Economists, a group I suddenly realize I should cover full-time) found that as a state becomes more politically liberal, its consumption of beer and liquor rises while wine consumption drops.

That same month, a group reported that Democrats preferred clear booze while Republicans were partial to brown liquor. This might explain it, actually. Maybe more Democrats have strong, deeply felt opinions about the potential problems stemming from alcohol consumption, leading to a belief that it is immoral. Or maybe more Democrats think alcohol is morally unacceptable because they’re drinking the wrong stuff.

 

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman | April 15