Democrats aren't in control of much these days. But there is some evidence they're in control of their sexual impulses.
New research that analyzes data hacked from the Ashley Madison website finds Democrats are the political partisans least likely to use the service, which links married people who are looking to have an affair.
Libertarians were the most likely to be customers, while Republicans and Green Party members ranked in between.
"The general pattern seems to be that members of conservative or more right-wing parties used Ashley Madison more often," co-author Kodi Arfer of the University of California–Los Angeles said in announcing the results. The study, co-authored by Jason Jones of Stony Brook University, is published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Using data from the infamous 2015 leak of Ashley Madison user data, the researchers "obtained names, addresses, and zip codes for each credit card payment from March 21, 2008, to June 28, 2005." Then they matched those individuals to voter-information data, including party affiliation, from five states: California, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New York. This resulted in more than 76,000 matches.
To no one's surprise, they found that, of the five states, California had the most Ashley Madison users (one in 560 voters), while Oklahoma had the fewest (one in 943). But things got more interesting once they started breaking the numbers down by political affiliation.
"Using two analytic strategies, we found that a registered voter's probability of spending money on Ashley Madison for something other than deleting their account varied substantially based on their political party," the researchers write. "Libertarians were the most likely to use Ashley Madison, Democrats were least likely, and Republicans, Greens, and unaffiliated voters were in between."
Now, Libertarians skew male (63 percent in this study), while Democrats are majority female (58 percent in this study). However, the ranking of usage by political party remained essentially the same even after the researchers reran the numbers taking age and gender into account.
Arfer and Jones call this "perhaps the strongest evidence yet that people with more sexually conservative values ... are more sexually deviant in practice." That interpretation is consistent with the results of a 2017 study, which found states that are home to large numbers of evangelicals generate an above-average number of Internet searches for sexually explicit material.
But it may not be entirely fair. Remember that Libertarians, not social conservatives, were the most likely to use the service. According to a 2014 Pew Center study, members of that group (who, we learned last week, are also are the most analytical of all American voters) tend to be liberal on social issues, especially those involving sexual behavior.
Perhaps for some, that yearning for maximum freedom extends to their marriage vows.