The Bipartisan Issue: How Divorce Rates & Political Parties Intersect

Divorce is a bipartisan problem. Let's decode how divorce rates and political parties intersect and what cultural trends the stats reflect overall.

Updated March 3, 2024
Bride and groom

Believe it or not, divorce doesn't care about the party line. It can happen to anyone who says "I do." But when it comes to divorce rate statistics, one political party is outpacing the other. Currently, Republicans are ahead. Let's dig deeper into how your political party may impact the statistical success of your marriage, and what the numbers really are. 

Divorce Statistics By State

The most recent comprehensive report on where divorce and politics intersect was published by the American Journal of Sociology in 2014. They noted that red states have higher divorce rates than blue states. A newer study from the organization is hopefully coming down the pike. But for now, we can rely on newer, less comprehensive data to see where the trends are heading. 

We delved into a 2021 Statistica chart to look at the states with the highest divorce rates and compared it to the 2024 electoral map. The states with the top five highest divorce rates were mostly Republican, with Nevada being a swing state (otherwise known as a purple state, where an election can swing to either party). The Democrats have the edge on states with the lowest number of divorces but by a slim margin.

States With the Highest Divorce Rates

As you can see, the top five states with the highest divorce rates are mostly Republican or can swing that way in election season. 

State Divorce Rate (per 1,000 residents) Voting Record
Nevada 4.2 Swing state
Oklahoma 3.8 Republican
Wyoming 3.7 Republican
Alabama 3.6 Republican
Arkansas 3.6 Republicans

States With the Lowest Divorce Rates

When comparing the reports, we found that three out of the five states with the lowest divorce rates leaned Democrat. However, Democrats don't have a full sweep of on the lower end of the divorce spectrum, with the last two (Texas and Kansas) voting Republican. 

State Divorce Rate (per 1,000 residents) Voting Record
Massachusetts 1 Democrat
Illinois 1.3 Democrat
Texas 1.4 Republican
Maryland 1.6 Democrat
Kansas 1.9 Republican
Fast Fact

Pew Research reports that 69% of Democrats believe folks stay in bad marriages too long, compared to 41% of Republicans. This kind of lifestyle outlook can be a contributing factor to these divorce statistics. 

What Do the Numbers Mean? 

We can stare at stats all day and come up with different reasons for the correlation between divorce rates and political parties. However, checking out the finer details might shine some light on this connection. 

Political Party & Marrying Ages Might Be Linked 

The United States Census Bureau clocks the estimated median age for first marriages from 1890-present is 30.5 for men and 28.6 for women. These ages have gradually increased over the past several decades overall.

When we break it down by state, our eyebrows go up. shared the 2023 details on the average age of folks getting married by state, and the areas with the youngest folks getting hitched are all Republican. Interestingly, three of these states do have the highest rate of divorce.

State Average Age Women / Men
Utah 23.5 / 25.6
Idaho 24 / 25.8
Wyoming 24.5 / 26.8
Oklahoma 24.8 / 26.3
Arkansas 24.8 / 26.3
Alaska 25 / 27.4
Kentucky 25.4 / 27.1

Now let's look at the oldest ages of marriage. The seven states with the oldest ages at the time of marriage lean Democrat with two (Maryland and Massachusetts) having low rates of divorce. 

State Average Age Women / Men
Washington, D.C. 29.8 / 30.6
Vermont 28.8 / 29.3
New York 28.8 / 30.3
Massachusetts 28.8 / 30.1
Rhode Island 28.2 / 30.0
New Jersey 28.1 / 30.1
Maryland 27.7 / 29.5

Related: Top 14 Reasons for Divorce

The Number of Marriages Per State Might Have an Impact 

The Centers for Disease Control reported on the marriage rate for each state between 2019-2021. Generally, there are fewer marriages in Democratic states than in Republican states. And by that logic, more marriages could result in more divorces, skewing the evidence pool. 

If we look at the marriage rates per 1,000 people in states with high divorce rates, we see this logic play out in real-time. 

State Rate per 1,000 people
Nevada (Swing) 26.2
Oklahoma (R) 6.1
Wyoming (R) 7.4
Alabama (R) 7.6
Arkansas (R) 8.2

Compare those numbers with the marriage rates in states that have low divorce rates, and you'll see a lower number of marriages overall. 

State Rate per 1,000 people
Massachusetts (D) 4.6
Illinois (D) 4.7
Texas (R) 5.8
Maryland (D) 5.2
Kansas (R) 5.4

It's All About Correlation Not Causation 

The thing about divorce rates and political parties is that there are just far too many factors that go into a divorce decision for anyone to make sweeping claims about one party being more or less likely to divorce than another. However, these marriage and divorce rate trends point to Republicans marrying both at younger ages and more often than Democrats and divorcing more as well.

But, as the US Census results show, people are getting married in fewer and fewer numbers, which leads to fewer divorces. So, there's a big chance these results are going to drastically change in the next few years. 

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The Bipartisan Issue: How Divorce Rates & Political Parties Intersect