Talking politics at work

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Our morning meetings are dominated by politics. Today’s led off with a rousing post-mortem of the surprising results in Iowa last night. We talked about‘s speedy and smart coverage, Joe Klein’s take on Obama’s victory, and Joel Stein’s video analysis of one voting center at an Iowa elementary school (it has to do with cookies and a made-up candidate named Joe Cox).

Politics and discussions of politics pretty much rule my workplace. You can’t spend an hour here without hearing Klein hold forth on Hillary or a photo editor remark on Mitt Romney’s hair. But I work at a news magazine driven by political coverage, particularly in an election season. And no one feels obligated to vote for Obama just because our boss put him on the cover. (Though he did look fetching, didn’t he?)

Apparently, over a third of employees feel otherwise. Check out this new poll from

In many offices, the boss has no qualms about making his or her political beliefs known. According to a survey by, 35% of bosses openly share their political views with employees, and 9% of workers feel pressure to conform to the boss’ views. Regarding co-workers, 30% of respondents said that a co-worker has tried to influence their choice in an election.

Political talk is alive and well at the office, as 66% of survey respondents said that their co-workers candidly discuss politics, and 46% have witnessed an argument about politics between colleagues. Slightly more than half of all survey respondents (52%) said that they were open about their own political views at work.

All that talk affects workers. Read:

“My boss insisted that he had to know who I voted for in the election,” said one respondent. “Then he proceeded to tell me that if I didn’t vote his way, I had no business working for the company.”

That’s not healthy, says P.M. Forni, director of the Civility Initiative at The Johns Hopkins University, but it’s really up to the employee to deal.

“There is only so much that an organization can do to minimize the negative impact that differences of opinion may have on everyday life at work,” Forni says. “Over-regulation prescribed from the top can add to the very tension that it is meant to ease. In the end, it is up to the individual workers to find the wisdom and deploy the skills to remain professional at a time when ‘we’ versus ‘they’ thinking is more frequent.”

What happens at your office? Do you feel pressured to vote blue or red? Does your boss drive to work in a car plastered with Huckabee stickers? Do you?