In a tight race, political advisers have to stop at nothing to figure out how voters are thinking — all the way down to scrutinizing what's in their shopping carts. By looking closely at consumer behavior, including how people eat, savvy advisers are seeing a way to scavenge for votes. In the voting biz it's called microtargeting (hello Soccer Moms!) and it's as much political discipline as cute concept.
In the Coke-vs-Pepsi United States, the brands we buy and how we spend our free time can be a pretty good predictor of our politics. So the same way you get a mailbox full of targeted catalogs, people can figure out your votes based on shopping habits.
Although advisers still consider gender, religion, and other big categories most useful, info about eating, travel, and hobbies provide a good second-tier crystal ball into the mind of the voter. Clintonite Mark Penn wrote a book all about this practice of microtargeting — and said about Obama in an email just last week, “He has more of the arugula vote.” Are you an arugula or an iceberg vote? To see which parties eat what,
- Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic sodas.
- Dr Pepper is a Republican soda.
- Most clear liquors, like gin and vodka are Democratic hooch.
- Brown liquors like bourbon or scotch are Republican.
- White wine and Evian water are Democratic.
- Red wine and Fiji water are Republican.
- Democrats prefer Popeye's chicken.
- Republicans eat Chick-Fil-A.
Though the chicken-and-beer info is useful, it's how you use the platter that matters. The managing director of American Environics says,
“Knowing that your base drinks gin doesn’t give you a clear idea on how to communicate with them effectively on issues. But if you take it a level deeper and say, are there psychological drivers that will help understand the values behind the behavior, you can speak to those values and persuade voters.”
Do your ballot and your pantry match? Are you a Dr Pepper Republican? Do you think this in an accurate way to predict votes or just a bunch of leftovers?