As long as I can remember I’ve carried blank paper and a pen in my purse. Even after I added the notepad app to my iPad, I still made room for paper and ink beside it in my attaché.
The notebook in my purse today is spiral bound and upcycled from a discarded book by a Glenview-based business, Hardback YoYo. Owner Brian Martin, sandwiched blank pages for writing between the original cover and several pages from the original text of Amy Vanderbilt’s Everyday Etiquette, first published in the 1950s.
Chapters covered correspondence, funerals, “Your Manners Away From Home,” and the like in a questions-and-answer format. But when I dropped my purse the other day the book fell open to the most timely of topics: registering to vote.
Mrs. D.B. Millersville, of Pennsylvania, asked Vanderbilt, “As a married woman how do I register to vote?” Vanderbilt recommended signing with your legal name rather than your social name; “that is, Anne May Smith, not Mrs. John Smith.” Another option was to use first name–maiden name-married name, Anne Clarke Smith.
“If a married woman prefers to sign herself ‘Anne Clarke Smith’ rather than ‘Anne May Smith’ there is usually no objection, and I myself feel that this is a more distinguishing name than one which uses the first two Christian names – if there are two – with the married one,” Vanderbilt recommended.
I’ll feel some pride this November when my voter ID bears the first-maiden-married name combination that Ms. Vanderbilt promoted.
But as long as I was thinking about it (and undoubtedly avoiding some other household task), I did a quick Internet search of whether spouses like Anne and John Smith vote alike. The research suggests that, more often than not, they do. The question of why remains a mystery.
Consider first a 2011 study published in the Journal of Politics. It established that spouses are more strongly correlated in their politics than they are in their personality or physical traits.
Researchers in this case likened mate selection to friend selection, and suggested that people choose friends and neighbors – and as an extension, dates – who share their socio-political orientation.
But that explanation negates the popularity of online dating, and so I read with interest a 2011 study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. In it, researchers randomly sampled online dating profiles from 313 zip codes, and found that few people expressed political preferences in these profiles.
Acknowledging that spouses most often vote alike, the research team sought to explain how singles who don’t talk politics at the beginning of a relationship could end up marrying a like-minded voter. They came up with two possible explanations.
One was that singles are more flexible before a first date, but they do want to know about their mate’s political preferences once things get serious. Incompatible politics may end the relationship after a few weeks or months.
A second explanation was that singles are making long-term mate choices based on qualities that unintentionally correlate with politics, like religion, “physiology or intelligence.”
But the exception proves the rule and many happy couples sit on opposite sides of the political aisle, a la James Carville and Mary Matalin –that’s who I want to talk to this election year. Tell me how you and your spouse keep the peace on election night when your ballots aren’t in agreement.
Email me at [email protected]
This story was originally published in The North Shore Weekend newspaper.