Reading Harry Potter makes people dislike Donald Trump – study

22 Jul 2016

A new study in the US has shown a correlation between the amount of Harry Potter books read by Americans, and their support of Donald Trump.

Political science is not often the domain of immensely popular modern culture, though a new study into the appeal of US presidential hopeful Donald Trump could change that.

In a study of over 1,000 people in the US, Prof Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania found that the more people read Harry Potter books, the less they like Trump, regardless of their political leanings.

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Donald Trump Harry Potter

Even when controlling for party identification, gender, education, age and other criteria, Mutz claimed the ‘Harry Potter effect’ remained.

Mutz began looking at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which she said was credited with shifting public opinion away from slavery in the 19th century, before finding a comparably popular book in recent years.

Given hundreds of millions of Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, Mutz found her base and questioned 1,142 Americans in 2014 and then again in 2016.

She investigated their Harry Potter consumption, their attitudes on issues such as torture, discrimination and death, as well as their feelings about Donald Trump.

On average, each Harry Potter book read lowered respondents’ evaluation of Trump by between 2 and 3pc.

“Similarities between Donald Trump and Harry Potter’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort, have not gone without notice during the 2016 campaign,” Mutz wrote in the report, harking back to references made throughout Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination.

Mutz thinks the reason behind her findings is due to Potter’s advocacy for three things she claims Trump is dead against: supporting others, non-violent conflict resolution and fighting against authoritarianism.

“The messages of tolerance for difference and opposition to violence and punitive policies appear to be influential in altering Harry Potter readers’ policy views,” she said.

The paper is soon to be published in a special 2016 election issue of the journal PS: Political Science and Politics.

Harry Potter image via cjmacer/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic