Several recent studies suggest that our political beliefs reflect much less free will than most of us had probably assumed.
A study by Cornell psychology professor David Pizarro cross referenced results from 181 adults on the Disgust Sensitivity Scale (which measures exactly what it says, our reactions to various visual scenarios) and a political ideology scale. It turns out that people who are more squeamish, i.e., who react with disgust to the sight of various insects or blood or entrails are more likely to be conservative. The difference was most pronounced when it came to attitudes towards gays and lesbians.
Another study, by a group of NYU psychologists, showed that conservatives tend to have more well organized offices, whereas liberals tend to have more colorful, comfortable offices.
All of which would seem to indicate that political beliefs are more a matter of instinct, temperament, emotion, and perhaps tribal loyalty, and less a matter of well reasoned thought.
The only purpose of our intellect seems to be to justify the conclusions we have been lead to by our instincts and emotions, which were pretty much preordained by our genes. We are far less rational than we think.
One good example might be our reaction to the NYU study on office decor. Liberals will think, see, we have more style, more imagination, and more sense when it comes to selecting comfortable furniture. Conservatives will react by thinking, aha, see, we're better organized, which is a reflection of our more ordered thought process, and we have less concern for making a flashy impression.
Both groups' thoughts will immediately move towards justification. Which is all it seems our brains are good for.
Is that how you reacted (whichever side you're on)?
I'm afraid it's how I reacted.