How an Obama Victory Hurts Republican Men

In response to habitual conservative claims that polling firms are cooking the books in Obama’s favor, Jon Chait recently made the case that poll denialism was understandable, even if its reasoning was wrong.

A good deal of what undecided voters who are just now tuning in will learn about Romney is that he’s a loser disdained by fellow Republicans. Conservative rage over this fact may be utterly misplaced, but the sentiment itself is perfectly understandable.

The desire to vote with the winning team–regardless of party affiliation–is even stronger than Chait suggested. An essay in this weekend’s Sunday Review argues that all those discouraged Republican man are going to be even more depressed if Romney loses for psychological, rather than strictly political reasons.

Men who had voted for the losing presidential candidate, John McCain, suffered a big drop in their testosterone after hearing of his defeat.The scientists reported that the male McCain voters “felt significantly more controlled, submissive, unhappy and unpleasant.” The testosterone effect was “as if they directly engaged head-to-head in a contest for dominance” and lost, one researcher told a reporter when the study was published in 2009. The men who voted for Obama fared better. The researchers speculated that there might be an Obama baby boom.

No change, meanwhile, was observed in women’s testosterone levels. This evidence, as the author notes, suggests higher female voting rates may reflect the fact that women don’t let elections affect their self-worth. Pardoxically, it seems, hypercompetitive male behavior has made men less likely to fight for their own teams.

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Simon van Zuylen-Wood

Simon van Zuylen-Wood is a writer for Philadelphia Magazine.