The fruits of political victory: More porn

X-rated Web searches go up in states that vote for winning candidates, a study finds

Topics: Pornography, Broadsheet, 2010 Elections, Sex, Love and Sex,

The fruits of political victory: More porn

When you go to the polls next Tuesday, you will be making your voice heard, helping to shape the future of our country and engaging in the ultimate expression of democracy. But, by the way, you might also be temporarily influencing the country’s porn-viewing habits. A wife and husband team — Patrick and Charlotte Markey — has found that post-election Web searches for pornography go up in states that voted for the winning political party.

Past research has found that men’s testosterone levels rise after a vicarious win — whether it’s an election or a sports competition. (I have no trouble believing that, based on the wild scene last night in San Francisco after the Giants messed with Texas, again.) The evolutionary theory is that, as Time magazine’s Belinda Luscombe explains, a man “could be hurt or killed, and therefore not breed if he kept fighting even though outmatched.” Given the association between testosterone and sexual behavior, the researchers decided to look at how American porn-viewing habits changed after elections. They found that after the 2004 presidential election, red states did significantly more online trolling for smut; and in 2008, blue states took the lead. That’s even after controlling for traditional X-rated search rates in those states.



Keep in mind that the study only looked at two election cycles. Also, there are plenty of explanations other than fluctuating testosterone levels. The researchers from Villanova University and Rutgers University explain: “A person who voted for the winning candidate might have simply been happier and more likely to desire sex than individuals who voted for the losing candidates.” It’s also worth pointing out that the results don’t tell us anything concrete about the gender makeup of these porn searchers. However, the assumption is that testosterone changes impact men more than women and the researchers note, rather humorously, “Given the frequency that males use the internet to search for pornography … and the keywords used in the current study to operationally define pornography searchers (e.g., ‘boobs,’ ‘tits,’ etc.), it seems likely that the observed findings were driven by males.”

So, that raises a question for another study: What are women doing to celebrate their electoral victories?

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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