“We love Arnold!” said Jenna and Barbara Bush at the 2020 Republican National Convention. “Thanks to him, if one of us ever decides to marry a Democrat, nobody can complain.”

Of course, since then, Jenna Bush has gotten married…to a Republican. (And as you’ve probably heard, Arnold & Maria recently called it quits.) As much as the Bush twins may have wanted to rebel against their family, it’s very rare for someone to date someone of opposing political beliefs. According to a new study by Rice University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, people place more emphasis on politics than any other trait, including even personality and appearance.

According to the study’s lead author, John Alford:

“It suggests that, perhaps, if you’re looking for a long-term romantic relationship, skip ‘What’s your sign?’ and go straight to ‘Obama or Palin?’ And if you get the wrong answer, just walk away.”

This isn’t just because people naturally tend to find mates from the same social, religious, and economic backgrounds (and who therefore might be expected to have similar political backgrounds.) Out of the studies 5,000 participating couples, only about 10% of the couples who share political views come from homogenous backgrounds. It seems like opposite’s attract when it comes to all other aspects of life–except politics.

So are differing political views insurmountable? Not necessarily, but the study does note that inter-spousal persuasion is rare–a Republican who gets together with a Democrat probably won’t convert him or her to the other team. (Possible that after 25 years of waiting for a political conversion, Schwarzenegger and Shriver simply gave up trying?)

This is all to say, if you fall in love with someone from the opposite political camp, don’t expect them to “come around eventually”–they probably won’t. And if you have enough trouble overcoming other opposing personality traits (messy/neat, homebody/party animal, rich/less rich), you might want to make sure politics is something that gets discussed very early on. (HowHookup, for example, lets you search by political preference.)

Have you ever dated someone with opposing political beliefs? What were the biggest hurdles you faced as a couple? Tell us in the comments.

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