The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Could interracial marriages soon outnumber bipartisan marriages?

A commissioner fills out a marriage certificate in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Would you believe us if we said you're about as likely to marry someone of a different race as you are someone from the other political party?

Buried inside a new Pew Research Center survey on political polarization is this nugget: Americans say they are overwhelmingly married to people with whom they agree politically. In fact, just 9 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats say their spouse or partner is a member of the other major political party.

By contrast, Pew estimated in 2015 that 6.3 percent of Americans in 2013 were married to a spouse of a different race. But that number is climbing. It was less than 1 percent in 1970, but about 1 in 8 marriages in 2013 (12 percent) were interracial.

Bipartisan marriages still far outnumber gay marriages -- another fast-increasing kind of marriage, thanks to its nationwide legalization in 2015. Gallup data suggests about 1 million American adults are married to a spouse of the same gender; but that's still less than half a percentage point of the entire U.S. adult population.

A caveat here: While the latter two data points -- on interracial marriage and gay marriage -- are estimates based on hard data, Pew's poll is based on self-reported bipartisan marriages. Fourteen percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats offered no response to Pew, and it's quite possible many of them (or even some who assume their spouse is in line with them politically) are unwittingly in bipartisan marriages. (The horror!)

But in a country that has grown increasingly polarized -- and quickly -- in recent years, it's perhaps no surprise that so few people would choose to spend the rest of their lives with someone from the other side of the political spectrum.

Because while Americans have quickly warmed to the idea of people marrying people of the same gender or a different race, they're moving in the opposite direction when it comes to bipartisan marriage.