Politics ruining your appetite? Study shows people leave Thanksgiving meal early

Dreading the heaping helping of partisan political bickering likely to be served up at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner?

If so, here’s one thing to be thankful for: A contentious feast probably won’t last as long.

A recently completed study on the effects of partisanship on family ties showed that Thanksgiving dinner 2016 ended, on average, 20 to 30 minutes earlier than the previous year among mixed-party gatherings.

“Heightened political partisanship is cutting Thanksgiving dinner short,” said Ryne Rohla, co-author of the study and a doctoral degree candidate in economics at Washington State University.

Last November, weeks after what may have been the most divisive presidential election in recent history, America sat down for its first Thanksgiving dinner in the uncharted political era of President Donald Trump.

The charged political environment carved off about 27 million hours of normal Thanksgiving conversation due to early exits and no-shows, the study found. Republicans were most likely to bolt first, Rohla said, leaving on average 45 minutes early.

“The entire effect is almost completely due to Republicans leaving early,” Rohla said.

The data: The study used precinct-level voting results from the presidential election, data on political advertising and smartphone location tracking data to test the relationship between partisan discord and time spent at Thanksgiving dinner. The core methodology calculated how long a guest from a precinct favoring one party stayed at a dinner in an area won by the opposing party.

In media markets where political advertising was heaviest, the effect was more than doubled, meaning pumpkin pies were ostensibly wolfed down or taken to go in Ohio, Iowa, Florida and other swing states.

In Orlando, Florida, for example, Thanksgiving dinners were cut short by about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Orlando saw the most political TV ads leading up to the election of any market in the U.S., according to Kantar Media data used in the study.

“It shows how much political polarization is impacting everyday life … it’s something you can’t escape from,” Rohla said.

Recently presented at Northwestern and Stanford universities, the study has been submitted for publication in a scientific journal. Rohla said researchers plan to monitor this Thanksgiving as well, but declined to predict whether the trend…

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