Survey: What Co-Workers Tell Each Other About The Election

talk politics at work election day

By Anthony Balderrama

After all the debates, commercials with approved messages, polls and endless graphs showing momentum shifting, Election Day is finally in sight.

But for all the barrage of election news, people don't plan to bring their politics into the workplace. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 66 percent of workers don't share their political affiliation at work. In fact, 28 percent of workers believe that they need to keep their political leanings a secret while at the office.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the fact that the pundits have said that this election is all about the economy, workers aren't necessarily making the same correlation. Only 52 percent of surveyed workers believe that the president has an actual effect on the unemployment rate.

That's not to say that workers aren't politically active. Eighty-two percent of surveyed workers plan to vote in November, they just won't be wearing their political beliefs on their sleeves -- or on their cubicle walls. An overwhelming 98 percent of surveyed workers don't display any campaign items or decorations in their workspaces.

More: Why You Shouldn't Talk About Politics At Work

Why Workers Are Mum On Politics

Workers who keep their political leanings to themselves tend do so out of office etiquette. Sixty-eight percent of these tight-lipped workers believe political affiliations should only be discussed at work if they affect their jobs. However, 13 percent of these workers choose to keep their politics private, because they believe their co-workers mostly support the opposing party.

"It is easy for a conversation about politics in the office to become an argument about politics," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "For the most part, people want to avoid controversy in the office as much as possible."

Who's Talking, Who's Not

Although most workers won't be handing out campaign buttons in the lunchroom, some aren't afraid to let their political flags fly. Some workers are more vocal than others.

  • Thirty-seven percent of men share their political leanings.
  • Thirty-one percent of women share their political affiliations.
  • Twenty-one percent of workers ages 18 to 24 share their political opinions at work.
  • Twenty-nine percent of workers ages 25 to 34 aren't afraid to be political while on the clock.
  • Thirty-six percent of workers 35 or older discuss their political affiliation.

The Do's And Don'ts Of Political Discussion

1. Keep it factual.
If cable news has taught us anything, it's that data can be twisted to support anyone's office. Turn on the TV when the monthly unemployment numbers are released, and you'll find analysts using the same numbers to tell wildly different stories. Don't get caught up in a discussion and distort facts or exaggerate examples when talking politics with a co-worker. It will only escalate.

2. Be observant.
People are passionate about politics, and that might mean that they go from calm to angry in a matter of seconds. Watch his body language to see if your once-friendly conversation has caused your co-worker to get defensive or angry. If your amiable co-worker is as red in the face as Bill O'Reilly or Chris Matthews, you should both probably walk away.

3. Find a common ground.
Remember that, despite political differences, people have a vested interest in politics, because they care deeply about specific issues or the direction of the country. You might not agree with your cubicle neighbor, but you both want the best for everybody. Remind yourself of that before your discussion turns into a serious conflict.

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Evidently the concept of a secret ballot is new to you people. I have neither the desire not the duty to tell my coworkers or anyone else for whom I either intend to or have voted.

November 05 2012 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a sad commentary that few people will ever admit that although we have seen progress over the last four years, the reason that we have not seen more is because the President is a person of color. It has nothing to do with experience, leadership ability, etc. There have been several "buzz" words spoken over the past four years: "we need to take our country back"; "we need a real American as President"; "we need to put white back in the white house". All of these comments are racist! In this 21st century in America, we still have such hatred because of the color of a person's skin that we can't work together for the GOOD of ALL America (native Americans, Asian, Black, White, Latino). We need to work together for rich and poor. Making a 500 % profit (keeping workers employed and insured) instead of a 1000% profit (laying off workers or not offering insurance so I can put more money in my pocket) should be the mindset of all business until the economy is fully recovered.

Being a business man does not necessarily make you a good candidate for President. Business owners can make unilateral decisions based on the best interest of their company. They very rarely have to consult with anyone in making decisions. The President has to not only lead, but be a consensus builder in working with Congress. Private interest should not be given priority over the good of all!. That's basic love thy neighbor as thyself.

Banks should be willing to work with everyone to fix their mortgage situation. Loans were made to all kinds of people, not just moderate income people that get blamed for biting off more than they can chew causing the foreclosure mess. People with money bought over their heads as well. Investment bankers made billions of dollars on the credit default swaps and most walked away with no punishment. Retirement savings lost; pension plans getting blamed for states going bankrupt and the little guy that can least afford to pay, is paying. Members of Congress serve one term and get health insurance and a pension for life. That burden again is put on the taxpayer, but the little guy's union is taking a slamming because he is getting too many benefits. Something is very wrong with this picture.

Open your eyes and truly search your heart. This is not a new America, but a better America because of all of us and we are ALL in this together! We are our brother's keeper!!!!!

November 05 2012 at 10:51 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to anticqtee's comment

So let me see if I understand you correctly. If I choose to vote for an inexperienced black communtiy organizer as president I am a wise and just voter. If on the other hand I decide that my first choice was wrong and vote for a white candidate to replace the black president then I must by a racist because the black president's policies have clearly made America a better place.

Yep, that looks to be about right, so call me a racist if you must. I prefer to believe that what's good for business is better for my country than what's good for welfare recipients, even businesses that are welfare recipients.

Question: How is it that whire politicians bail outs of big businesses is a bad thing while black politician's bail outs for big business is a good thing?

Another question: Have you read Dodd-Frank? If so have you discovered that a part of it's purpose is to institutionalize the concept of 'too big to fail' at the expense of smaller businesses and, of course, the taxpayers?

Another question: Have you noticed that the vast majority of Obama's re-election supporters do not pay federal income taxes? (Check the IRS/census/treasury reports if you doubt my word.)

November 05 2012 at 1:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mitch rochelle

mitt is in this for his own gain......if you think he has your best interest at heart think again......remember he likes to fire people(yes he said that) and ship jobs to china for profit .. that his bottom line....he and bain have shipped over 400,000 jobs so far to china......yours could be next.....just ask the people at sensata. a company making a good profit year after year. but mitt has the chance to line his pocket with millions.. who does he care about??? himself.....think about that before you vote tommorow........

November 05 2012 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mitch rochelle's comment

So you're saying that Obama ran for president in order to benefit you? Have you ever hired someone who didn't do the job for which you hired them? Are you unaware the Obama's policies have shipped literally thousands of jubs overseas? (To use your flawed premise.) How do you explain the unvarnished and inescapable fact that some eighty percent of the businesses restructured by Bain Capital under Romney are sitll in business and that most have grown more profitable than before?

I'll bet you even belive that Romney killed a woman for profit. If your post is a result of what you call your thought processes I would advise you to learn a little history before making a fool of yourself with leftist talking points. Once I would have agreed with your conclusions but that was before I learned to question the left's anticapitalist and antibusiness, both fundamentally antiAmerican, propoganda.

November 05 2012 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No doubt about it, Mitt Romney is the man of the hour and the man we need to put this country back on track.

November 05 2012 at 10:16 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why coworkers won't share who they voted for? Because it's nobody else's business but their own!!! GEEZ!!!! Is it that hard to figure out????

November 05 2012 at 9:25 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

...If you have a boss with strong political viewpoints......Stay neutral and undecided. Sadly your alliances might cause him/her to view you in a different light !...None of anyones business which way you swing !...Just do the right thing and vote Obama/Biden 2012.. The repairing of the republican trashed economy continues ...yup.

November 05 2012 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And the media doesn't have anything to do with, putting such a wedge between people? All one sided, only bringing up political stunts, for people to ague over. Never the real issue's, that we as American's will have to face, deal & live with for years to come. These elections remind me of the Vietnam era. Just as then, is what's happening now, the media always trying to manipulate the people, with their points of views! Not allowing the people see the real facts side by side to be able to decide for themselves. You'd think after all the advancements that have been made in our world today, it'd be impossible to do this again, but they've managed it. They know most people will just stick with a few issue's, and won't have the time to find out the real things that will impact their lives for years to come. Keep them busy, and divided, so they'll be ill informed is their motto. This is how they can get away with doing anything. As proof, look at the situation we are in today. Who should you vote for? Romney of course!!! Obama doesn't have another election coming, and will be able to do anything he wants to us. Romney will have to suck up to us for another 4 years. That has to be America's best chance, to have the time to learn more. They can't cover up all the facts forever.

November 05 2012 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I look at it as an interview between the two candidates. One with experience and one without experience in business. That experience is what we need to cut costs, create a bridge and rebuild against the division that has occurred with Obama. I had such high hopes for him -- I think many people did -- but his lack of experience as a leader, his lack of understanding of businesses and the capitalistic system, have hurt so many people. If you ask yourself, do you have a job? Do you have a job that is paying you as well as you used to? I would like to make more money than what I was making 10 years ago. Granted, Obama took over from an already bad economy, but all of his decisions have made it worse. He could have been like Clinton and bridged the gap through leadership to coerce both parties to do great things. He did not. He could have done more to bridge the gap of racial diversity. He did not, he doesn't address it at all. Regardless of party affiliation, we need leadership. Perhaps we won't get it without a revolution and a tight citizen group that watches carefully all those elected and what they are voting for. But it would sure be better to have someone with leadership qualities and experience.

November 05 2012 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are only two reasons why our country has fallen from greatness. Its the two political parties themselves, the Republican and Democrat parties. Yet 97% of voters are passionate about their party. Go figure

November 05 2012 at 6:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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