Democrat vs. Republican

In the November elections, Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate and won a slew of political offices across the country. They also were winners in SpareFoot’s recent survey about clutter in America.

In the survey, American adults were asked whether they think their house or apartment is cluttered. In all, 27 percent indicated their home is “very” or “somewhat” cluttered.

Digging deeper into the data, we found that just 22 percent of Americans who identified themselves as Republicans fell into the “very” or “somewhat” category for household clutter. Democrats came in at 27 percent, while independents were at the top of the heap (30 percent).

Clutter Chasm?

Why do we seemingly have a clutter divide in America, with Republicans on one side of the aisle and Democrats and independents on the other?

Leslie Jacobs, a professional organizer in New Britain, CT, said she’s had Republican, Democratic and independent clients, so she thinks clutter is nonpartisan. However, Jacobs said that as both a professional organizer and as a guest at political fundraisers in people’s homes, she’s noticed that Republicans are, indeed, less cluttered than Democrats and independents. From her perspective, Democrats lean toward being sentimental about hanging on to keepsakes, such as treasured books, while independents tend to collect lots of paper.

Three Distinct Viewpoints

Seana Turner, a professional organizer in Darien, CT, said it’s tough to pin down why Republicans might be less cluttered than Democrats and independents. However, she thinks it could be connected to differences in how they view the government’s role in their lives.

presidential debate

Are Republicans or Democrats more cluttered? It’s debatable.

Generally, she said, Republicans put their faith in a free-market economy as a pillar of financial success and might be more willing to let go of household belongings “because they believe they have the power to earn the money needed to replace it, should the need arise.”

Meanwhile, Democrats, who historically have put stock in the government’s ability to solve economic problems, might hold onto household belongings “because their financial status is linked to an entity that is subject to public and political will and, therefore, beyond their control,” Turner said.

As for independents, they’re perceived as careful decision-makers, a trait that could be a barrier to shedding household clutter, she said. “The more we think about the pros and cons of getting rid of an item, the more difficult it may be to let go of an item—almost a paralysis of overthinking,” Turner said.

Everyone Has ‘Affluenza’

Stacey Agin Murray, a professional organizer in Fair Lawn, NJ, said that although there’s a gap in the survey between Republicans and independents, it’s not a large enough gap to vote one way or the other on the issue of who’s the most cluttered group.

“I think many people in the U.S., regardless of their political affiliation, have been affected by ‘affluenza’ and the need for more, which has gotten them a cluttered household,” Murray said. “Then there are people who can’t find their sample ballot or their car keys, so they can’t get out and vote.”

Survey Methodology

For this survey, telephone interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults living in the continental U.S. Telephone interviews were done by landline (502) and cellphone (501, including 280 without a landline phone). Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) conducted the survey. Interviews were done in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from Oct. 9-12, 2014. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.