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Booze and (Political) Parties

  |   By: Steven Boydstun     |   Opinion

It’s just like Gov. James “Big Jim” Folsom used to say: “Y’all they trying to catch ‘ol Big Jim in a trap. And guess what? If they bait that trap with whiskey and women, they gonna catch ‘ol Big Jim every time!”

That’s what ‘ol Big Jim said. And he was on to something.

Politicians are known to imbibe in smoke-filled rooms while striking up deals — or at least that is a common image people have. But, could someone’s preference of liquor and wine accurately predict their political leanings? Even for non-politicians? Perhaps even one’s voting frequency?

One recent study suggests as much. The study finds that people who lean Republican tend to prefer brown liquor while those who lean Democrat tend to prefer clear liquor.  Let’s be honest, many of us like to imbibe from time to time, or have at one point in our life.  Please do not be naïve enough to think our lawmakers in Washington and Montgomery are members of the Temperance Movement. There seem to be “clear” preferences along rather ideological lines as to what kinds of spirits people prefer.

Not to be left out, wine drinkers made their mark as well.  Astoundingly, 14 of the 15 most popular brands among the most avid voters were wine brands.  Therefore, if a person drinks Clos Du Bois they are much more likely to vote regularly than someone who drinks Seagram’s Gin.

There is also the age factor.  Jagermeister, for instance, is consumed mostly by younger people.  Older people are more likely to drink wine.  Younger people vote much less often than do older people.  Therefore, one can see an even deeper implication as to the average age of consumers of some brands.

Winston Churchill became synonymous with smoking large cigars and drinking whiskey.  In fact, those large cigars became so synonymous with him that today that particular size cigar is known throughout the industry as a “Churchill” and caricatures often feature him smoking and holding a glass of scotch. He was a member of Britain’s Conservative Party for almost all of his political life.

Is there nothing that does not divide us in this day and age?  Can we not even sit down for a libation after work without accentuating our ideological differences?  Fear not, there is hope.  Both Bicardi and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum seem to be pretty bipartisan.  Finally, something both sides can agree on.

There really is something to the images of Southerners wearing seersucker sipping bourbon and city dwellers in posh clubs drinking martinis.  The former today tend to be conservative while the latter tend to be liberal, and our political leanings cannot only reveal themselves in our attire, our location, or even our accent. They can even show themselves during happy hour.

Of course, there are anomalies; I count myself among them.  I prefer bourbon in the colder months and gin in the warmer months.  I guess that makes me politically confused despite having very good taste. Heck, Big Jim was a progressive years ahead of his time, but his love for whiskey is legendary. It’s not perfect science of course, but there is something rather intriguing about the whole thing.

So next time you pour yourself a drink, look down at it.  It might just be revealing your inner ideology.

Follow Steven on Twitter at @skboydstun

Steven Boydstun holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Troy University (Troy) and a Master of Public Administration degree from The University of Alabama. Views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of his employer or any other affiliate.