Conservatives eat here. Liberals eat there.

by on May 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm in Food and Drink, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

From a set of national chains, liberals most favored (in relative terms) California Pizza Kitchen.

Conservatives favored Cracker Barrel and Papa Murphy’s and Marie Callender’s and Hooter’s.

For fast food outlets there is a big liberal margin in favor of Chipotle, Boston Chicken, Qdoba, and most of all Au Bon Pain.

There is more here.

Eric May 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This is an interesting study, but the lack of geographic control makes it (probably) pretty useless.

Bill May 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

More than useless without geographic control.

A better picture would be voting patterns in the 1968 elections.

You could track the number and location of restaurants based on which state voted for George Wallace in 1968 and get the same picture.

prognostication May 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Yup. I am very liberal, and I love Cracker Barrel, but I have only lived within a reasonable distance of one for less than 10% of my life.

Ted Craig May 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

That’s what I was thinking. I never even heard of Marie Callender’s other than as a frozen food brand.

Steve Sailer May 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

You also need racial breakdowns so you can compare white Democrats to white Republicans. Blacks and Hispanics tend to be liberal voters but don’t exactly have the same dining inclinations as Stuff White People Like liberals. And the vast majority of people who look at statistical tables like this are white people who are mostly interested in comparing themselves status-wise to other whites.

ao May 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm

SS thinks its all about race. Who surprised?

Belisarius May 6, 2014 at 2:11 am

Er, I think he’s just trying to isolate out race, no? To NOT make it about race? You know, actually correlate the variable at hand (ideology) to the effect (restaurant choice). You know, SCIENCE!

dearieme May 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

True conservatives tend to prefer a contemplative pint in a pub beer garden, looking out over a river and enjoying the rushing around of the young children.

I assume that American conservatives are a different breed.

Careless May 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

Race and geography probably explain a ton of this. Stopped clock moment.

tt May 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm

i’ve never even heard of some of those places.

Dan Lavatan May 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Me too. Plus they failed to include libertarians, so we are once again stuck making our own food from our own livestock.

Ted Craig May 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm

No, you eat at Burger King, according to the article.

msgkings May 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Interesting the libertarians would go to a monarchist restaurant. Do they also prefer Dairy Queen?

JWatts May 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Sticking it to the Monarch!

cthulhu May 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

Let them eat…Butterfinger Blizzard! (Hell, I’m going there NOW!)

Thomas May 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm

At Burger King so they can have it their way?

Sorry.

libert May 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Interesting. It’s almost as if people who live in liberal regions are more likely to eat at restaurants located in liberal regions.

Dan Weber May 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm
So Much For Subtlety May 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm

But people do not open a restaurant without doing some market research. Nor does a restaurant stay open unless it can attract a large enough client base. So you have just moved the question back. Why do people open restaurants liberals like in liberal areas? Sounds stupid, but do they know that they need to hit the mother load of liberals? Or are they looking at some other data which also correlates with being liberal? Wealth for instance. Or race.

Or perhaps people choose a suburb because they like the restaurants?

bellisaurius May 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm

You could look at it anecdotally. When chicago opened a chick fillet, there was some excitement about it, and it does OK buisiness for where it is, but it’s still generally less crowded then some of the nearby ‘liberal’ ones. As an added bonus, they’re thought of as conservative because locals know where they’re from, and the whole same sex thing.

Krispy Creme sees to not have taken root all that well either.

I think it’s mostly about familiarity, but it seems both sides are aware to some extent of things being ‘sounthern’ or ‘northern’, and enough people respond to it to make it a thing.

GeoffB May 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Chick Fil A does well enough in Chicago for them to have opened another store in the city, and for the company to have stated publicly that it plans to expand further in large urban (i.e., liberal) areas. I would love to see some evidence to the contrary if you’re going to assert that they are less crowded.

bellisaurius May 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Just giving street level reporting based in the chicago ave store. I’m not saying they’re doing badly, just that when I go in there or pass by in the evening, the nearby mcdonalds or jimmy johns seem more crowded. I like chik fil a, so I’m really not trying to give a biased comment. Just an impression.

Careless May 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

Two stores in Chicago isn’t exactly thriving

Brandon May 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

They’ve built two in the suburbs within 10 minutes from my house within the last year. They seem to do pretty decent business whenever I drive by. Not as good as local favorite Portillo’s, but then I’ve never seen anybody do the drive-thru volume they handle.

Adrian Ratnapala May 6, 2014 at 3:39 am

Doesn’t the south also have an actual distinctive cuisine? And would that not mean that there are some resteraunts that are just more common in the south for reasons that have nothing to do with politics.

There are lots of italian resteraunts in all over Europe, but Italy has more than all the others put together.

Steven Crofford May 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I note anecdatally that my more traditional conservative friends and family members tend to have downright annoyingly bland palates and insist on “home cooking” style restaurants when we go out. If there’s a burrito on the menu or a sauce more exotic than A1 on the table, they have no interest in eating there.

Doug May 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Ever been to a hot sauce convention? The crowd isn’t that different than what you’d find at a Ted Nugent concert.

Alex' May 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Texans typically have different tastes than Midwestern or Southeastern conservatives, I think.

Sam May 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Yep. Cracker Barrel is great if you like chicken-fried chicken, chicken-fried pork or chicken-fried steak. No chicken-fried tofu to my knowledge, yet.

I only know because I ate at every Cracker Barrel from Maine to Louisiana, based on a poorly negotiated agreement that our tour bus driver would be in charge of choosing our pit stops.

Inter-regional product homogeneity truly lets you eat like you’re at home, every frickin’ time if you so choose.

Z May 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Interesting. I’ve had the opposite experience. My liberal friends will eat cardboard and claim it is exotic. They are all from New England so maybe that’s the issue. In New England, salt is an exotic spice. Then again, “home cooking” in New England is throwing your shoe in boiling water so it is tough to compare.

Wonks Anonymous May 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I must be a New Englander who was switched at birth into an upper-midwestern family. Although I suppose most everybody else would consider them equally bland.

John May 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Isn’t California Pizza Kitchens pretty much cardboard, or is that what you had in mind?

Keith May 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Take them to a great barbecue place. It is a place for good folks and hippies too ;)

bellisaurius May 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm

There were a couple things that culture shocked me in the navy, eating habits were one. I was always amazed how much how much tabasco southerners are willing to throw onto a breakfast meal. They just eat what would be considered the opposite of continental cuisine.

Roy May 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm

You don’t live in Texas do you? Or know any actual old school Western conservatives for that matter.

I will agree that living in Minnesota most conservatives were pantywaist mewlers, but most of the liberals were too. But I bet if you did a survey of lutfisk and headcheese, you would find a different correlation. And I say this because those items are found most reliably in church basements.

BenK May 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

We could ask what variables need to be held constant in the model… gender, location, age, pricing. It depends on the question, obviously, but as reported the results are quite thoroughly confounded.

Rob42 May 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Is it just me, or do the liberal restaurants seem higher status than conservative ones? Are liberals higher status, or more likely to want to signal status?

Doug May 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Liberals generally have better taste when it comes to food, music, and fashion. Liberal generally have more open personalities which leads them to sample a wider variety and cultivate a more discerning palette. But that same openness leads to an excess of guillibility when it comes to art, architecture and drink.

ET May 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Better?

I’m glad we’ve reached the point where we can assign objective values to subjective tastes.

Yancey Ward May 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

+1.

dead serious May 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Happy you’re happy.

Doug May 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Urso May 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

California Pizza Kitchen – clearly the most DISCERNING of the mall food-court pizza places

Jan May 5, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Liberal elitist.

Doug May 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Every restaurant represented from America on the San Pellegrino 100 list is in a heavily blue city.

http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners

zz May 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

Bahaha it just amazes me that someone could be so terrible at detecting their own bias.

Anthony May 16, 2014 at 12:21 am

And Chuck-e-cheese, apparently.

Ricardo May 6, 2014 at 12:39 am

As noted elsewhere, the list doesn’t control for geography (not to mention age and marital status) so we can’t separate out differences in taste due to political affiliation with differences due to geography or other demographic variables. Conservatives are more likely to live in red states, and more likely to be older and married so no real surprise that the restuarants most associated with conservatives are family restaurants prominent in red states. I am not sure if California Pizza Kitchen and Chipotle can really be described as “high-status” — Chez Panisse, OK, but Chipotle? In any case, though, these are restaurants prominent in major metro areas and popular with young, single people — in other words, exactly the people most likely to self-identify as liberal. Anecdotally, I don’t think that conservatives from similar demographic groups would shun these restaurants — it’s just that there are fewer of them in the demographic groups that these companies target.

TMC May 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm

For me, liberal foodie friends go out alot while the conservative foodies are excellent cooks and have more house parties. Probably associated with having more kids.

JoeDog May 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Liberals tend to live in urban areas surrounded by restaurants. Conservatives tend to live in the exurbs surrounded by other conservatives.

Ted Craig May 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Carl’s Jr. has a 110 liberal index to a 95 conservative, for a difference of 15. Hardee’s has a 102 conservative index to a 78 liberal index, for a difference of 24. Those are some of the larger differences, although far from the largest. So why do liberals prefer Carl’s Jr. and conservatives prefer Hardee’s? Were conservatives offended by the Paris Hilton ad campaign? Or is it that they are the exact same restaurants with different names located in different parts of the country?

“There are clearly regional biases here.” No duh.

Keith May 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Carl’s Jr. has a huge presence in California. I had never heard of it until I came here.

JWatts May 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Yes, but to Ted Craig’s point, they are owned by the same company and are extremely similar to each other at this point.

Jay May 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Thus geography is the only reasonable factor left.

Ken Rhodes May 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I am a liberal, and I would eat at Carl’s Jr, drive a Bentley, and wash my car every day. What an ad!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-qkoyiYs38

chuck martel May 5, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Karchner’s bought Hardee’s long after the midwest chain had established its customer base and then changed the menu to match Carl’s Jr. In a lot of places Hardee’s has become the local cafe where the old timers meet for coffee in the morning.

Btone May 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Based on the data in the article, it looks like Liberals favored Marie Callender’s and Hooters, contra Tyler’s summary.

mkt May 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Are all of those chains national? I haven’t heard of some of them (OTOH, I have been to a Marie Callender’s restaurant, they’re fairly common in So Calif, or at least were, there may’ve been a bankruptcy in there somewhere).

I’d like to see where Waffle Houses rate — in absolute terms, and then compared to other restaurants in the south.

One of the funniest short films ever made was _The Accountant_, which won an Oscar around 2002 for best live short film. One of the characters, a southern farmer, keeps railing against Boston Markets until his brother, also from the south but an urban resident, finally asks him what’s so bad about Boston Markets. The reply: “Do you want yer sons growin’ up eating cornbread that’s sweet and drinkin’ iced tea that ain’t?”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0222675/

Urso May 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm
Walter May 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm

The column sorter is completely broken: it’s sorting by the first digit of the number as opposed to the entire number; i.e., it’s sorting alphabetically not numerically. That make’s it difficult to really review the list

Z May 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Even adjusting for regional issues, I don’t find too many surprises. Liberals are far more worried about trends while conservatives are going to be more focused on value. The grocery story list is the best example. Liberals will spend ten dollars for an orange at Whole Foods rather than buy the same orange at Walmart for a quarter. Snob appeal has always been an effective way to market to the Left.

A Definite Beta Guy May 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I agree on Whole Foods. However, I find Trader Joe’s a pleasant and reasonably priced experience, relative to the other local food chains in the greater Chicago area.

Z May 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I have a a swanky new Wegmens near me and I think it is reasonable. I fully admit to avoiding the low end places on class grounds alone. I just don’t want to see fat women in stretch pants buying pallets of Hamburger Helper. I’ll pay a little to avoid that, but I have my limits.

mjcexbzbay2 May 5, 2014 at 7:56 pm

The Shrewsbury one? Friends and family love it, going to have to try it next week when I’m up there.

Dain Fitzgerald May 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm

I prefer the offerings of the Whole Foods type stores – Berkeley Bowl around here I much like – but am generally too lazy to do a full-fledged grocery shopping trip. Oh do I love having lots of interesting food delivered (low class means, high class ends) like Brazilian dishes, but when I do food shop it’s at the corner store. And boy do I pay dearly for buying cereal and milk from a place that also stocks Steel Reserve about five feet away.

Ricardo May 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

Conservatives are more likely to be married with kids. Compare like with like and I think you will see differences in taste but doubt the conservative would come across as looking more thrifty. Since the list does not control for demographics, it’s not very useful by itself.

mavery May 6, 2014 at 10:08 am

I’ve shopped at both stores many times. The reasons have generally been convenience. There just aren’t a lot of Wal Marts in the middle of most cities. (But I do have a convenient WalGreens that I go to regularly, so I guess there’s that.) If you want to put some ulterior motive on why folks go to Whole Foods over Wal Mart, perhaps consider that some people object to the amount Wal Mart pays their employees. Also, there’s the whole organic thing, which I think is mostly bunk except in the cases where it’s not.

Ted Craig May 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I find it odd that Ruth’s Chris ranked third highest among liberals and had one of the biggest gaps. This is from the Wikipedia entry on the chain: “Advertising efforts are primarily focused in the talk radio market and its male demographic. The chain has cultivated paid endorsements from several radio celebrities, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, with the latter proclaiming Ruth’s to be his favorite restaurant.”

So, either Ruth’s Chris is wasting a lot of advertising dollars or this list is bunkum. I’m betting on the latter.

Chris S May 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm
Michael May 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Or Ruth’s is trying to expand its market share by penetrating a new demographic?

chuck martel May 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Ruth’s Chris is a 100% expense account operation.

Walter Bob May 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Never eaten there without an expense account.

B.B. May 5, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I take great comfort knowing that Jack In the Box has close to equal conservative and liberal indexes.

Asher May 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

It seems that liberals eat out more. The total liberal score is higher than the total conservative one.

Another way of looking at this is that “eating at home” has a conservative bias.

8 May 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Marriage gap!

JayT May 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Is it that conservatives eat at home more, or is it that conservatives are more likely to eat at local restaurants, and not the big box chain restaurants?

Chris S May 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

IMO, this should be presented as the difference between the two groups. It is misleading to say “Conservatives love Hooters” (implying liberals don’t) – there is only a 16-point spread. Meanwhile, CPK scores an impressive 71-point spread and Bob Evans a 39 spread.

Agree with the comments that this needs to control for geography, maybe a “pct voted for Obama by county” control variable.

John Thacker May 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Also, on the absolute scale, Hooters scores higher on the Liberal Index than Conservative scale.

Friendly’s has an enormous difference, probably because it’s a Northeast thing.

mavery May 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

That explains why the only Friendly’s I’ve ever seen was in Sarasota, FL. :-)

Nick L May 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I live in a fairly conservative suburb of St. Louis, and I guarantee you less than 10% of the shoppers at the local Whole Foods would call themselves conservative.

As usual, the old retail adage of “location, location, location” applies here as well.

carlospln May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

All suburbs in St. Louis are ‘fairly conservative’ ;)

the kaigat of wands May 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm

On the other hand –

http://www.homefacts.com/politics/South-Carolina/Charleston-County/Mount-Pleasant.html

both whole Foods and Trader Joe’s

Clay May 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Wow, so many confounding demographic variables here…

If they called it “Texas Pizza Kitchen”, would the affinity switch.

Dave Barnes May 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Proud to say that I have never eaten at any of the these restaurants.

So Much For Subtlety May 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Dave Barnes May 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Proud to say that I have never eaten at any of the these restaurants.

A SWPL bumper sticker really. (Although I admit neither have I. I am not proud of it. I am just such paleo that I eat nothing unless it has been brought down by my pack of timber wolves and butchered with a stone flint. Eating out is an issue.)

Thor May 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Me too, though not really proud so much as … bemused.

Timothy May 5, 2014 at 7:48 pm

This would be much better with some consideration of independent eateries. A lot of chains have no presence in NYC, for example. In fact – top of the list Chipotle & Au Bon Pain have managed pretty well in NYC. (Where’s Pret?) I am also very interested in who the hell eats at a Papa John’s or a Domino’s in NYC, but the locations seem to stay open somehow.

the kaigat of wands May 5, 2014 at 7:55 pm

And so the point of all this is what ……. other than to further the divide and conquer process our masters have been implementing for the past few decades?

Ed May 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Wait Marie Callender is a restaurant? I thought it was just frozen dinners.

the kaigat of wands May 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Living in San Antonio in the early ’80s we went to Marie Callender’s quite often – of course, in retrospect, you have to wonder if they were/are like those restaurants in France serving re-heated prepared meals ………….

mkt May 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

It was (and maybe still is) a chain in Southern California, lots of TV advertising, fairly large number of restaurants. I’ve never seen a Marie Callender’s anywhere else, but obviously that’s just my personal experience.

cthulhu May 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

Back in the ’80s, there was a Marie Callender’s in Norman, Oklahoma, right off I-35. I don’t know if it’s still there or not.

Ken Rhodes May 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Since there are no national barbecue chains, this survey has a hole in it big enough to drive a Ford F-350 towing a Lang 108 Deluxe.

If it ain’t got the smoke, the survey’s a joke.

Bill May 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

What, you don’t consider Applebees a barbecue joint?

cheesetrader May 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Famous Dave’s has ~200 locations in over half the states….about as national as they come.

carlospln May 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm

One of the more pathetic aspects of life in the USA: the plethora of so called ‘chain restaurants’.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/food-drink/this-hot-50-is-a-snapshot-of-our-dining-excellence/story-e6frg8jo-1226700755636

cheesetrader May 7, 2014 at 8:33 am

Yes…..b/c only chain restaurants make up any list of the top 50 hottest/bestest restaurants in the US…

Do you only visit suburban strip malls or something? At least where I am, deep in the heart of flyover county, the independent restaurant scene is going gangbusters.

shrikanthk May 5, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Very interesting.

Similar observations can be made in India. Vegetarian family restaurants likely to be frequented by BJP supporters. While the liberal types likelier to visit non-veg dhabas at one end of the spectrum or more western fast food outlets like McDonalds/Subway

shrikanthk May 6, 2014 at 12:00 am

While in US, I guess it’s the opposite trend. With vegetarians likelier to be “liberal” and people who like a good American steak likelier to vote Republican?

Anon May 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

Too simplistic an explanation. If that is the case wouldn’t BJP get quite some votes in Chennai , whereas it hasn’t done well so far there. The 2 castes that are significant vegetarians are Brahmins and Vaisyas(trader caste). BJP has a good chunk of the latter but the Brahmin vote gets quite split up , with even the Congress getting quite a bit of it.

shrikanthk May 6, 2014 at 1:27 am

Brahmin vote does get split. But still the BJP and its allies would get a bigger share of the Brahmin vote than UPA.

And Chennai is predominantly non-vegetarian. In fact the Brahmin population in TN/Kerala lower than most parts of India. It’s highest in UP among the major states.

Urstoff May 6, 2014 at 12:33 am

I think the bigger mystery is why anybody would eat at a Perkins in the first place.

bartman May 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

The 55+ crowd can get a mountain of pancakes for, like, $3.

mavery May 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

What else do you do when you’re in college in Bradenton at 2AM? I mean, there’s Taco Bell, but that’s drive-through only.

Brandon May 7, 2014 at 10:59 am

Gigantic muffins

mulp May 6, 2014 at 1:39 am

What are the politics of people who prefer to eat at home fixing their own food?

shrikanthk May 6, 2014 at 2:07 am

If they’re married and eating at home, definitely conservative I say!

prior_approval May 6, 2014 at 7:48 am

Well, now that Adam and Steve can get legally married in many places, I’m not sure that ‘definitely conservative’ would be considered definitely accurate.

Timothy May 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

As gayness becomes accepted and standard, gays will more often spread out to fill the political spectrum. The SJW-left is already turning on white, cisgender gays and lesbians unless they have something else to recommend them like fatness or disability.

TMC May 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

More of a having kids thing, I think.

Floccina May 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

The most liberal Americans shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s supermarkets, according to an Experian Marketing Services gauge. Bloomberg News

And pay more for the same thing.

Brandon May 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

In some cases, sure, but you can also get access to some different ingredients that your local grocery store might not carry. We have 3 regular grocery stores within two miles of our home, but every once in a while we’ll want to try a new recipe that requires a trip to whole foods or trader joes (or the farmers market, depending on the season). Plus, you can get cheaper, better stuff at trader joes than you can at your regular store. The TJ-brand oatmeal and cereal bars (like nutrigrain) are delicious and cheap, for instance.

anon May 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I for one am delighted that Tyler seems to be taking Tyrone’s posting and linking suggestions more often of late.

degustibust May 8, 2014 at 7:43 pm

So the liberals claim to hate big corporations, but like to eat at the chains they own.

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