Inauguration crowd sizes aren’t the only thing that shrunk under Donald Trump: A new study out today in the journal Science shows that Thanksgiving dinner got considerably shorter in 2016, which just so happened to fall a few weeks after Trump’s (still surprising) victory.
The report suggests that family meals were cut short by an average of 30 to 50 minutes when these get-togethers put people of opposite party allegiances at the same table. The authors hypothesized that this might be true, but to prove the correlation, they had to analyze 17 trillion — yes, with a T — location “pings” collected from Americans’ smartphones, then overlay that onto the 2016 election results for 172,000 voting precincts. They essentially figured out each person’s “home base” using the pings, extrapolated their political ideology, then tracked where they went on Thanksgiving Day, and for how long they stuck around. (Before you ask, the answer is yes, critics have already blasted this study as “invasive,” “creepy,” and “super creepy.”)
Here’s what the researchers discovered: People in areas that voted solidly Republican or Democratic who traveled to a ZIP where residents had different political leanings spent far less time at dinner that day — up to 69 minutes less. Democrats were likelier to not go at all, while Republicans in many cases left more than an hour earlier than Democrats. And if subjects lived in a politically saturated media market, the effects were up to three times worse: The researchers’ math is that for every 1,000 political ads, it shaved two-and-a-half more minutes off Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s easy to joke about how entirely expected this is, but the researchers mostly just sound sad about it, like they’ve unearthed a trend they wish would disappear. They tell the New York Times that nobody’s excited to learn that “political polarization is damaging close family relationships.”