Latte Liberals, Dunkin’ Donut Democrats, And Which Candidate Is Really Best For All

Back in 2006 coffee preference became a factor in predicting voting behavior. At that time the talk was of the influence of Starbucks Republicans on the Congressional race. For background information I’ll post a copy of a post at a previous blog on this topic under the fold. Basically the Starbucks Republicans were fiscally moderate, socially liberal upscale voters who opposed the war. We now know the outcome. The Starbucks Republicans are voting Democratic, joining many independents and Democrats who fit into their demographic. This year the same demographics are separating supporters of Obama and Clinton. The Times of London Reports:

Among voters whose voting choice is not based on identity politics, Mr Obama’s supporters are the latte liberals. These are the people for whom Starbucks, with its $5 cups of coffee and fancy bakeries, is not just a consumer choice but a lifestyle. They not only have the money. They share the values.

They live by all those little quotes on the side of Starbucks cups about community service and global warming. They embrace the Obama candidacy because to them he transcends traditional class and economic divides. He is a transformative political figure – potentially the first black man to be president – and is seen as the one to revive America’s faith in itself and restore America’s status in the world. For these voters the defining emotion is hope.

Mrs Clinton is the candidate of what might be called Dunkin’ Donut Democrats. They do not have money to waste on multiple-hyphenated coffee drinks – double-top, no-foam, non-fat lattes and the like. Not for them the bran muffins or the biscotti. They are the 75-cent coffee and doughnut crowd. For them caffeine choice doesn’t correlate with their values but simply represents a means of keeping them going through their challenging day.

Though they don’t doubt that global warming is important, they think it can wait. They want to make sure first they can pay the heating bills. They’re not in favour of the Iraq war but neither are they so focused on restoring America’s image in the world. They’re not necessarily racist, it’s just that they’re not especially animated by the idealism represented by the first black president. For them anxiety, not aspiration is the defining factor.

One factor is that, at least among the more educated upscale segment of his supporters, is that liberal values trump personal economic need in determining their vote. Issues such as the war matter more, making Obama voters reluctant to vote for a supporter of the Iraq war such as Hillary Clinton. While Clinton supporters view government in terms of what government can do for them personally, Obama voters look at the bigger picture. Obama supporters are more likely to view a need for government in terms of goals which cannot be accomplished by individuals alone, including responding to global warming, making health care more affordable, and fighting poverty on a national scale. Principles matter more to Obama supporters, making them prefer the candidate who has vowed not to resort to Swift Boat tactics and making them oppose the Democratic candidate who lacks personal principles and has engaged in Rove style dirty politics.

The downscale Democratic voters are more willing to vote for Clinton because they are willing to place their personal need over principle. They don’t mind if Hillary lies and cheats if they perceive that she will lie and cheat to give them more government assistance. Obama voters are more concerned about matters such as which candidate will restore the Constitutional balance between the President and other branches of government, while Clinton voters don’t mind an autocratic president if they believe she will use her power to help them.

This division is really unnecessary as the perception that Clinton will do more for them is not based in reality. Hillary Clinton, who supported Wal-Mart in their fights against unions, can easily afford a $5 million personal loan to her campaign, and refuses to disclose her tax returns hardly shares the interests of the voters she seeks. Whenever the economic views of Obama versus Clinton are evaluated rationally rather than emotionally, Obama’s plans come out as far superior. For example, The Washington Post compared the economic stimulus plans of each candidate. Obama’s plan earned an A- while Clinton’s plan received a C-, barely beating John McCain’s D+. Clinton’s economic plans are devised to inspire political support but, like her poorly constructed plan to help with the mortgage crisis, do not stand up to scrutiny. Obama is the best choice for both Latte Liberals and Dunkin’ Donut Democrats

Starbucks Republicans

Posted by RonChusid
May 14th, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

Newspaper writers continue to want to over-simplify politics by pretending that one group they have written about determines the next election. We’ve had soccer moms, security moms, NASCAR dads, and other such groups. Now we have Starbucks Republicans:

This year, it’s “Starbucks Republicans” — mostly young suburbanites who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate and won’t hesitate to pay $4 for a triple grande iced caramel macchiato. And, with a midterm election looming that could change the balance of power in Congress, polls show they have become increasingly disenchanted with President Bush and Republicans.

I’ve written here many times that social issues (along with foreign policy) have replaced economics as the more significant division between the two parties. Democrats have dropped old leftist economic ideas for pragmatism, while Republicans have become the party of big government, deficit spending, and redistribution of wealth (except that their redistribution of wealth is from the middle class to the wealthy).

Those who desire a socially moderate and fiscally conservative course may be incorrectly named “Starbucks Republicans.” As one Democratic candidate puts it, “They call themselves Demo-crats now.”

Whether Democrats will benefit from the dissatisfaction with Republicans will depend upon how well they get out their message this fall. One Democrat pollster warns, “They may be disappointed in Republicans, but they are not convinced yet that Democrats will do better. They view what is happening in Washington, D.C., as a childish food fight.”


  1. 1
    FreedomDemocrat says:

    Ironically, I’ve always thought that Dunkin’ Donuts has the best coffee, hands down, and that Starbucks is crap.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    For most the difference is actually a matter of the experience, not the quality of the coffee.

  3. 3
    DumbPinkLabor says:

    Which candidate is best for America?

    Well, most folks in America fit into that Dunkin’ Donut crowd, altho sometimes we splurge on Starbucks coffee.

    We tried trickle down economics. Personally, I didn’t like mopping that up.

    So, I’ll go with what’s best for the majority of Americans.
    (That would be dunkin donuts 75 cent cup of coffee)

    But, I’ll keep the mop handy- just in case.

  4. 4
    b-psycho says:

    I’ve been to both. Starbucks’ coffee needs 8 packs of sugar in it before it becomes edible, and Dunkin Donuts’ coffee is relatively bland in comparison. I prefer a cup made at home from that grind-it-yourself station they have in most grocery stores, w/ a few Krispy Kreme donuts.

    Dunkin does have damn good breakfast sandwiches though.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:


    We should choose based upon which economic plans are best, not who has the cheapest coffee.

    Obama’s economic plans have nothing to do with trickle down economics. Your comment is consistent with my belief that Clinton supporter are voting without understanding of the actual economic policies of the two candidates. We’re all better off with the plans receiving the A- grade than C- Clinton plans.

  6. 6
    john heffron says:

    I’ve personaly come to view that Obama’s Evolutionary appeal
    (and why I, an auncient Lincolnian/ TR Republican) am dedicated to his nomiation and presidency is that the paradigm of a latte vs. Dunkin’s Donuts sippper is irrelevant Obam offers us ab American nectar,in my view. And so does his polished, ardent, erudite, self possessed, sensible, motherly, social servant, high achiever, thrify and witty – wife who just doesn’t whimper when she avers that she loves that man. So there! jlh

  7. 7
    Nick says:

    Ron is right that the under $50K people that are voting for Clinton without always having a full “understanding understanding of the actual economic policies of the two candidates.” I personally find it hard to believe that a Hillary term wouldn’t yield another term of Clintonian centrism. Thus my strong support for Kerry in 04, my initial (albeit a little reluctant) support for Edwards in 08, and now my support for Obama in tomorrow’s Maryland primary.

    One question though that nobody has yet able to answer? Kerry really connected with under 50K voters, after all he won them 55%-44% nationally and outside the SOuth won them 58%-41%! PUt another way, if the election had been up to voters making less than 50K, Kerry would’ve beaten Bush by the same margin Reagan beat in Mondale in 1984! Even 55-44 is a bigger margin than Poppy Bush over Dukakis. Has Hillary really connected with under 50K voters, or do they just view her as the “lesser of the two evils”? People from under 50K households make up 53-55% of households (unfortunately they only made up 45% of voters in 2004). If Hillary can’t do as well with these voters as Kerry did, I don’t she how she wins a general election. Sure OVER 50K voters can defect to the GOP, but given recent history I won’t believe that until I see it.

    PS full disclosure I am a white male ina household making between 30K and 50K. I’m in a labor union and I definitely favor Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    Clinton is doing better in those Democratic voters making under $50K. However we also know that many people in this income range vote Republican, so I’m not sure how well she will do overall in a general election.

    The vast majority of Clinton voters making under $50K will vote for Obama over a Republican. We also know Obama is doing better than Clinton among independents and moderate Republicans who might vote Democratic, but I haven’t seen any income breakdown on such groups.

    I’ve never had coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. While I do get coffee at Starbucks, considering cost and quality I prefer to buy Starbucks stock and get coffee at either local coffee shops or make the coffee at home in my Tassimo. Maybe I’ll do a post here on coffee, independent of candidate choice.

  9. 9
    Anonymous says:

    Ron says

    “The vast majority of Clinton voters making under $50K will vote for Obama over a Republican.” Agree totally, but will they turn out to vote?
    Ron also says “I prefer to buy Starbucks stock and get coffee at either local coffee shops or make the coffee at home in my Tassimo.” Not only a great blogger, but a smart consumer, gotta love this place/blog!

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    I think they will as these are primarily strong Democratic voters.

    On the other hand, much of Obama’s support comes from people who don’t regularly vote Democratic, and therefore fewer of them are likely to vote for Clinton. The exception is Obama’s black support which does regularly vote Democratic. However, if black voters see the nomination as being stolen from Obama, I could see many staying home.

    Incidentally, getting back to coffee, it isn’t an either/or choice of making coffee at home with the Tassimo or drinking Starbucks. There are now Starbucks coffee pods available for the Tassimo. Of course the Starbucks pods are the most expensive ones that the Tassimo uses.

  11. 11
    Nick says:

    For the record, the anonymous poster was me, Nick

  12. 12
    DumbPinkLabor says:

    “Ron Chusid Says:
    We should choose based upon which economic plans are best, not who has the cheapest coffee. ”

    Let me clarify it for you:

    The best economic plan benefits the most people and is the most frugal.

    And that happens to be Hillary Clinton’s comprehensive economic plan. You know, the one that Obama “borrowed” because, well, he didn’t really have one?

    We have bills to pay and a budget to balance.


    oh – and Kona Coffee is the best!


  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    The best economic plan is one that works. That’s why The Washington Post gave Obama’s economic recovery plan an A- and Clinton only received a C-.

    It is especially pathetic of Clinton to claim that Obama “borrowed” her plan when he is the one who proposed a far superior plan. That’s what we get from Hillary Clinton, the candidate who will say anything, regardless of how untrue, to attempt to win.

  14. 14
    DumbPinkLabor says:

    Dear Ron:

    You may be relying too heavily on The Washington Post’s grades. BTW, do you know where one can find Obama’s newly released plan?

    I did read through both plans. Obama seems stuck on tax-cuts. I can see why the Starbucks crowd is dazzled. But isn’t that just more 20th century thinking?

    I prefer Clinton’s plan because tax cut don’t help homeless, freezing families weather hard economic storms. Clinton’s plan targets those who needs help most, while still providing enough tax relief to stimulate the economy. Yes, recovery might be slower, but on the other hand, Obama’s big give-away might not work- and then what? Clinton’s plan stops the bleeding and begins the healing while we work together to find a more effective remedy.


  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, I’m not really relying on The Washington Post’s grades at all. They just verify what I’ve already thought. Obama has a meaningful plan while Clinton just puts out statements for political consumption which don’t make much economic sense. This is reflected in her C- grade (barely beating John McCain’s D+.) For another example of how poorly her economic plans are viewed, read The New Republic’s description of all the faults in her mortgage plan.

    Reading on, I see why you think what you do. You’ve been relying on Clinton’s talking points and have absolutely no idea what Obama’s economic plan is. His plan certainly does not rely on tax cuts. His plan actually can do what Clinton’s plan claims but will not do.

    There is no newly released plan from Obama. Obama has had the same plans for quite a while. The Clinton claim just claims that there is a newly released plan so that they can tell their lies that Obama borrowed his plan from Clinton.

    You have a real contradiction here. If you claim that Obama has borrowed Clinton’s plan, you cannot say that Obama’s plan is any worse.

    If by new economic plan you are talking about his recent speech (which is based upon his long standing economic plan) it can be found here.

    This is only one speech, and other components of his economic plan are elsewhere at his web site.

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