Republicans prefer Labatt Blue and Canadian Club whisky

Alcohol choice and voting behaviour in the U.S.

Most Canadians wouldn’t associate Labatt Blue with U.S. Republican voters. The iconic Labatt bear, the star in advertisements south of the border, is unabashedly Canadian with the stereotypical accent. And yet, those who pick up a can of Blue, according to a recent study, are not only more likely to vote than someone who drinks Budweiser or Corona, they also more likely to vote Republican.

Labatt isn’t the only iconic Canadian beverage spilling over to the right. Those pouring themselves a glass of Canadian Club whisky are even more likely to vote Republican.

These proud Canadian brands may be linked historically to the land of universal health care, but when charted alongside 50 major brands of beer, wine, and spirits, and voter registration and turnout history, Canada’s famous beer and whisky are consumed by those most likely to vote the Democrats out of the White House.

The data has left experts scratching their heads over the results. “When we think of Canadian whisky in the United States, it’s generally an older crowd,” says Lew Bryson, managing editor of Whisky Advocate. “A lot of the time, the older crowd does tend to skew toward regular voting. I’d hesitate to say they’re more regularly Republicans.”

According to the study, however, whisky drinkers are in fact very likely to vote Republican. “A lot of what you see in these data are regional differences,” says Will Feltus, senior vice-president of research for National Media Research Planning and Placement, the Republican consulting agency that analyzed the data. He explains that whisky is more popular in the south, typically a Republican area of the country. And while Jim Beam and Wild Turkey bourbon whisky buyers skew furthest to the Republican spectrum, Canadian Club buyers are more likely to show up and vote.

Democrats tend to be buyers of the clear liquors, such as vodka and gin. “Most of the vodka adds now are focusing on flavours, which largely seems to skew to a younger audience,” Bryson says. Congnac drinkers are most likely to vote Democrat, something Feltus attributes to the liquor’s popularity amongst African-Americans.

The choice of beer and voting behaviour may come down to advertising, says Graeme Newell, president of the emotional marketing company 602 Communications. “What these liquor brands are doing is holding up a mirror to their customers and saying: ‘We’re just like you. We share the same values. We believe the same things.’” For that reason, beer drinkers’ voting behaviours are all over the map.

Bud Light drinkers, meanwhile, don’t sway much politically to either side. They simply have a low voter turnout. “I think it’s because [Bud Light] is the official beer of college campuses,” Feltus says. “Younger people are less likely to vote.”

Why Labatt Blue is more likely to be found in the palms of Republican voters remains largely a mystery to him. Labatt’s owner, major beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, has donated slightly more to Democratic candidates and political action committees since a major merger in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group.

“Data like this, some of it is just going to be random noise,” Feltus says. “There is not always a moral to the story.”

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