Political microtargeting and partisan booze

Over at the New York Times‘ Campaign Stops blog, veteran political scribe Thomas B. Edsall has a lengthy post about the intersection between retail and political microtargeting.

Especially at the presidential level, but also in Senate and House contests, microtargeting – the term of art for the acquisition of this kind of detailed information about specific individuals, including not only your political preferences and your likelihood of voting, but also other seemingly less political facts, like the clothes you buy, the movies you go to, the brands you prefer and the number of bedrooms in your home — has come into its own.

Edsall focuses especially on what the data from microtargeting can tell us about partisan preferences for consumption:

Perhaps most interesting, the findings emerging out of advances in microtechnology are a window into the striking differences in the tastes and interests of liberal and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. Among other things, Democrats and Republicans differ in the entertainment they prefer, the restaurants they go to, the drinks they chose and the Web sites they visit.

While Edsall relies heavily on one source — Republican strategist Will Feltus of National Media — some of the charts provided are quite interesting. Partisan preference is very pronounced when it comes to media consumption, and the cable news patterns bear that out. But when it comes to fast food, the results are clustered right around the middle. Outliers include White Castle (heavily Democratic) and Cracker Barrel (heavily Republican).

My favorite chart was one that showed the marked Democratic-Republican divide in alcohol preference.

Chart of partisan patterns in the consumption of alcohol

Chart of partisan patterns in the consumption of alcohol, via New York Times

Democrats heavily favored cognac, brandy, and gin. Their favorite beers were Milwaukee’s Best and Heineken. Republicans favored blended rye, Canadian whisky, and bourbon for liquors, and Amstel Light, Michelob Ultra, and Miller Lite for beers.

I do wonder how much Feltus has controlled for regional availability and preferences in his studies, but regardless — this is entertaining.

Plus, this information gives us some meaningless tribal bragging rights, and makes me feel slightly better about preferring Dunkin’ Donuts (whose customers lean moderately Democratic) to Starbucks (whose customers lean moderately Republican).