NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans will sit down next week for what has become a holiday tradition in the United States: tiptoeing through a turkey dinner without mentioning the president.
Nearly one-third of all adults will actively avoid political conversations when they see friends and family over the Thanksgiving and December holidays, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday. About half said they do not expect to discuss politics at all.
The Nov. 8-13 poll found that a majority of Americans consider politics to be among their “least favorite” topics to discuss in mixed company over the holidays.
People appear to be more interested in talking about religion, or even their personal finances, with cousins and in-laws than they are in discussing hot-button issues such as tax cuts, Obamacare and the Russia investigation.
[For a graphic on the poll: tmsnrt.rs/2zHlFa5]
Poll respondents said they learned to bite their tongues after years of dinnertime squabbles over the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, and then his successor, Donald Trump.
“If you bring up Trump or something, you’ll get a look from the other side of the table,” said Adrianne Beal, 77, a Trump supporter from Bolingbrook, Illinois. “It’s like: ‘hup, let’s change the subject.’”
Beal said her family learned this new holiday etiquette after a particularly stressful Thanksgiving in 2008. Obama had just been elected to his first term, and Beal’s niece called her a bigot for not supporting him.
“Well that was the end of that,” Beal said. “I decided I’m not going to talk politics anymore. I’m not those things they call me.”
Ora Wilhite, 37, who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election, said he called his older brother, a Trump supporter, to get politics “out of the way” before they meet next week at their family’s Thanksgiving in Frankfort, Indiana.
“We can keep it civil when it’s just us,” Wilhite said. “I’m not sure if the rest of the family can.”
According to the poll, 31 percent of adults “will be intentionally avoiding political conversations with family and friends” over the holidays. Another 48 percent “do not typically engage in political conversations” during holiday gatherings, and 21 percent will engage in political conversations with others “even if we disagree on issues.”
Trump voters were just as interested in shifting away from political conversations as voters who supported Clinton. Women were more likely than men to avoid politics, and Baby Boomers were more likely than Millennials to avoid the topic.
Sixty-two percent said politics was one of their “least favorite” conversation topics over holiday meals and gatherings. Separately, 41 percent said topics about money and finance were among their least favorite subjects, while 37 percent picked religion and 25 percent said family gossip.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,595 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points. [For the survey questionnaire: tmsnrt.rs/2zHx6Pd]
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Susan Thomas