J.K. Rowling has made no secret of her dislike for Donald Trump, but for "Harry Potter" readers, it would seem Trump is basically a real life version of Lord Voldemort.
This would perhaps go a long way in explaining the findings of a new study published in the latest edition of the journal PS: Political Science & Politics. The study, which surveyed 1,142 Americans in 2014, and again in 2016, asked them about their "Harry Potter" consumption, their attitudes on waterboarding, death penalty, the treatment of Muslims and gays, and — in 2016 only — their opinion of Donald Trump on a scale of 0 to 100.
Even after controlling for age, gender, level of education, age and evangelical identification, the survey found that readers of the novels tended to dislike the Republican presidential nominee. For each of the seven "Harry Potter" books a person had read, their evaluation of Trump dropped by 2 to 3 points on the 100 point scale.
“This may seem small,” Diana Mutz, a professor of political science and communication at the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted the study, said in statement. “But for someone who has read all seven books, the total impact could lower their estimation of Trump by 18 points out of 100. The size of this effect is on par with the impact of party identification on attitudes toward gays and Muslims.”
This, Mutz argued, could be because a lot of ideas that Trump has espoused in the past — a temporary ban on Muslim immigration and support for “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding — has led many to draw inadvertent parallels between him and Voldemort, who is portrayed as the “dark lord” obsessed with preserving the purity of blood among wizards.
“I think a lot of the identification of Trump’s dominating kind of politics is something people associate with Voldemort,” Mutz told Time magazine. “So it makes some sense that if you have been exposed to these long series of books where he is the ultimate kind of incarnation of evil, that the characteristics that are more aggressive tactics and so forth that Trump represents are less attractive, even leaving aside how it affects your policy attitudes.”
In addition, the survey also found that each Potter book read raised evaluations of Muslims and homosexuals by 1 to 2 points — a small impact, but still statistically significant.
“Throughout the series, love and kindness consistently triumph over aggression and prejudice,” Mutz said. “It’s a powerful positive theme, and thus not surprising that readers understand the underlying message of this storyline, and are moved by it.”
Although Mutz also collected data on impact of the "Harry Potter" movies, she found that these did not predict opposition to Trump. This may be because of pre-existing patterns in movie viewing and because the movies left out a lot of material from the book — increasing emphasis on action over the characters’ internal dilemmas and introspection.