Democrats Are From Starbucks, Republicans Are From Visa

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) called for the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. (Getty)
Can you tell a person's political affiliation from where they do their shopping? According to "global neuro-insight firm" Buyology, you can. And Buyology's come up with some peculiar political observations from the world of retail.

Republicans and Democrats diverge sharply on certain issues -- gun control, taxation, and gay rights, to name a few. Recently, that last issue spilled over into the consumer market, when chicken sandwich hawker Chick-fil-A took a vocal stance in defense of "traditional marriage." This feathery kerfuffle surprised a lot of folks. But according to Buyology, political parties have been drawing lines defining business brands as "red" or "blue" for quite some time.

Some of these are obvious -- and pun-fully so. For example, many Democrats describe themselves as "progressive." But did you know they also tend to buy insurance from Progressive (PGR)? (Republicans prefer Allstate (ALL)).

Republicans, historically a conservative bunch, spend their TV-watching time at -- you guessed it -- the History Channel. Meanwhile, their peers from the left side of the aisle tune into Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet.

Other allegiances are more surprising. For example, Buyology argues that Democrats may prefer companies purveying top-down, one-size-fits-all, packaged solutions, while Republicans are "more laissez-faire." This would explain Dems' preference for Wendy's (WEN) menu of meal deals, while Republicans dine at Subway, where each ingredient on a sandwich is handpicked by the consumer.

Democratic-republican favorites
Still, this theory fails to explain why Democrats gravitate toward Starbucks -- the mecca of personalized beverage-choosing, or why Republicans join their left-wing brethren in making "locked-box" computer maker Apple their top choice for technology.

Brands to Bank On

Buyology admits it's hard to nail down why one party or another prefers a particular business, but if its data are correct, that's not really the point. The point is that knowing which businesses a demographic favors may help us to invest more intelligently.

Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the White House this year, one thing's certain: Come November, one party or another will win the majority in America. It stands to reason that businesses popular with this voting majority will attract more customers than those catering to the outnumbered losers. The biggest winner in 2012 may be the winning party's "same-store sales."

Quiz: The Economy and the Tax Gap in the United States
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Democrats Are From Starbucks, Republicans Are From Visa

A. 30%
B. 27%
C. 19%
D. 13.9%

Answer: C. Thanks in large part to the exceedingly generous 15% capital gains and dividend taxes, most of the super-rich pay a lower tax rate than middle-class filers making $69,001 per year.


A. The top 1%
B. The Bottom 20%

Answer: B. Taxpayers in the bottom 20% pay, on average, 8.8% of their income into Social Security. Those at the top pay, on average 1.6% of their income into Social Security.


A. The top 1%
B. The bottom 20%

Answer: B. Depending on the state, the bottom 20% of earners pay between 6.7 and 1.1 times as much of their paycheck in state taxes.


A. 28%
B. 50%
C. 62%
D. 71%

Answer: B. While he has become the patron saint of tax cutters, for most of Ronald Reagan's presidency, the top tax rate was much higher than it is today.


A. 50%
B. 41%
C. 70%
D. 91%

Answer: C. Under President Nixon, there were also up to 33 tax brackets. Today, there are six.


A. 27%
B. 39%
C. 73%
D. 91%

Answer: D. The first big drop in the top tax bracket -- to 77% -- happened under John F. Kennedy.


A. $50,000
B. $375,000
C. $5.12 million
D. $10 million

Answer: C. In 2001, the estate tax exemption topped out at $675,000, and the top rate was 55%. Today, the exemption is $5.12 million, and the top rate is 35%. Side note: $5.12 million represents the average yearly earnings of over 103 households – none of whom would get a 100% exemption on their taxes.


A. 27.3%
B. 49.3%
C. 37.8%
D. 51.7%

Answer: B. The period right before the Great Depression witnessed one of the biggest income distribution gaps in U.S. history.


A. 25.3%
B. 32.3%
C. 41.7%
D. 50.3%

Answer: B. In the 1950's, America's thriving middle class was flush with cash. Their free spending further increased employment, creating a virtuous economic cycle.


A. 21.2%
B. 30.7%
C. 37.5%
D. 49.7%

Answer: D. In other words, income distribution in the U.S. today is more unbalanced than it was before the Great Depression.



Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Starbucks, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, writing naked calls on Dunkin' Brands Group, and writing covered calls on Starbucks.
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