Harry Potter fans may spell trouble for Trump as he 'reminds them of Voldemort'
Published 22/07/2016 | 14:06
Donald Trump's chances of becoming US president could take a knock because he reminds Harry Potter fans of evil wizard Lord Voldemort, a study suggests.
Reading Harry Potter books leads Americans to have a lower opinion of Republican hopeful Mr Trump, the findings show.
The more of JK Rowling's stories about the boy wizard they read, the more anti-Trump they become, say researchers.
They believe the reason for the "Harry Potter effect" is that Mr Trump's political messages are at odds with the values of Potter and his friends, which include tolerance, respect for difference, opposition to violence, and anti-authoritarianism.
Mr Trump is seen as having more in common with Harry Potter's arch enemy Lord Voldemort.
The study, which involved two polls of more than 1,000 US citizens, found that each Harry Potter book read lowered participants' evaluations of Donald Trump by roughly 2-3 points on a 100-point scale.
Lead researcher Professor Diana Mutz, from the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said: "This may seem small, 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."
Harry Potter is enormously popular among Americans. JK Rowling's seventh and last book in the series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, broke all publishing records in the US, selling 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours after its launch.
The study is published in the latest issue of the quarterly journal PS: Political Science and Politics under the title "Harry Potter And The Deathly Donald?"
Prof Mutz's team surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,142 Americans in 2014 and again in 2016. Participants were asked about their exposure to Harry Potter stories, as well as their opinions about issues such as waterboarding, the death penalty, and the treatment of Muslims and gays.
In the 2016 poll, they were also questioned about their feelings towards Donald Trump.
Party affiliation did not affect the likelihood that a person had read the Harry Potter books, the study found. People with Democrat, Republican or Independent leanings had all read JK Rowling's books in roughly equal numbers.
Examples that illustrate how distant Mr Trump is from Harry Potter, and how much closer he is to Voldemort, can be found throughout the stories, according to Prof Mutz.
For instance, Harry and his friends oppose Lord Voldemort's quest for blood purity among wizards.
Mr Trump, in contrast, has called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration and spoken offensively about various "outgroups" including women, Mexicans, Asians, and those with disabilities, said the professor.
While Voldemort is willing to kill and inflict pain without compunction, the books' heroes and heroines consistently avoid unnecessary curses for killing, torture or controlling others.
Harry even saves the life of his Voldemort-groomed nemesis, Draco Malfoy.
Mr Trump supports waterboarding and has made statements - later retracted - in which he advocated killing the family members of terrorists who threaten the US.
Prof Mutz wrote: " As does Voldemort,Trump portrays himself as a strongman who can bend others to his will, be they the Chinese government or terrorists."
She added: "Harry Potter's popularity worldwide stands to make a difference not just in the US election, but in elections across Europe that involve aggressive and domineering candidates worldwide."
The study found that watching Harry Potter movies, rather than reading the books, did not predict Trump opposition.
Part of the reason for this may be that reading requires higher levels of attention and movies tend to emphasise action over character portrayal, said Prof Mutz.