Politics really is ruining Thanksgiving, according to data from 10 million cellphones

November 17, 2017

In the wake of last year's bitterly contested presidential election, “politically divided” families cut their Thanksgiving celebrations short by an average of 20 to 30 minutes. Republican voters were more likely to bail on Democratic families than vice-versa. And reductions in family time were steeper in areas that saw more political ads.

Those are among the conclusions of a new working paper by M. Keith Chen of UCLA and Ryne Rohla of Washington State University. The paper matches location data from 10 million smartphones to precinct-level voting data for the 2016 election, painting a detailed portrait of how people from predominantly Democratic and Republican areas spent their 2016 Thanksgiving holiday.

In recent years, Thanksgiving has become a politically fraught time, often pitting family members with diametrically opposed political beliefs against each other over plates of turkey and mashed potatoes. Last year, for instance, news outlets across the country published stories on how to navigate political discussion with Trump-supporting uncles and socialist nephews. A majority of Americans said they hoped to avoid Thanksgiving politics completely.

Read the full story

Discuss