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Do July 4 Parades Really Indoctrinate Children, Boost Election Day Turnout for the GOP?


"The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols..."

Do July 4 parades really turn children into Republicans, guarantee a higher election day turnout for the GOP and energize the nation's right-wing? In short, yes.

A new study from Harvard University contends that the annual celebrations that millions of Americans participate in each year may actually cause children and adults to support more right-leaning candidates. U.S. News and World Report has more:

"Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation's political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party," said the report from Harvard.

"The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century. Survey evidence also confirms that Republicans consider themselves more patriotic than Democrats. According to this interpretation, there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican Party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically biased events that socialize children into Republicans..."

This will likely come as a shock to Democrats who participate in these parades each year. While the nation's left wing doesn't benefit at all from the processions, Republicans, on the other hand, take away quite a bit of support -- or so the study says.

If July 4 celebrations are attended before a child turns 18, the likelihood of him or her identifying as a Republican later on increases by 2 percent. But, it's not only about the children. The likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a GOP candidate is increased by 4 percent. Actual voter turnout is even said to increase by 1 percent, with the chance that these individuals will dole out political contributions increasing by 3 percent.

The report, written by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam, finds that the aforementioned results don't simply last for a short time, then dissipate:

Surprisingly, the estimates show that the impact on political preferences is permanent, with no evidence of the effects depreciating as individuals become older.

While this is certainly not good news for Democratic candidates (many of whom, like their Republican counterparts, attend these events for the public relations and electoral benefits), the study provides intriguing information that helps Americans better understand how political inclinations are formed and impacted.

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