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
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.”