MSNBC's The Cycle Filler Segment: 'You Vote What You Eat'
Following a lengthy discussion of relevant topics like the president's first real press conference in almost eight months on Wednesday afternoon, MSNBC's The Cycle still found extra time on their hands for fluff. And so they brought on David Wasserman from the non-partisan Cook Political Report to present his statistical findings on, I kid you not, how handily Obama did in "Whole Foods" counties over "Cracker Barrel" ones.
The study goes all the way back to 1992, where Democrats have tended to frequent the environmentally-conscious organic grocery store -- whereas the typical Republican has an affinity for Cracker Barrel's old-fashioned American comfort food. The correlation of which is puzzling considering their differences, but the analysis went on to include the Tractor Supply Company vs. Trader Joe's and Apple vs. Golden Corral. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
The segment was introduced by Steve Kornacki, whose fascination with the idea was not really shared by the others. He began:
A key observation (of election season) was this idea of two Americas, a good old John Edwards term. A cultural divide that was far stronger than an ideological or political divide. Our next guest may have found an example of that very divide in the link between where you eat and how you vote.
Asked what other company comparisons apply in a similar way, Wasserman's findings got a little more amusing. He replied:
Yeah well, although these two scored highest on our indicator when I merged the database with retail consumer habits, we can also look at similar patterns with Tractor Supply Company vs. Trader Joe's. With Apple Store vs. Golden Corral. And there's a little bit of hypocrisy in both Whole Foods and Cracker Barrel land, Steve by the way. You know at Whole Foods, if you look at the parking lot, there are actually many more gas guzzling German luxury cars than Priuses. You're talking about people who you'd think would have this green ethos, and meanwhile over at the Cracker Barrel's kitschy old country store section of the store, you're going to find a lot of patriotic USA swag, proud military dad hats, and T-shirts. Well guess where they're made in Southeast Asia. And so what the brands have done is centrally market not just a product or a series of products but an entire life style and politics is increasingly coming down to life style and culture, not policy.
In all seriousness, the panel and their guest discussed the trend for over 7 minutes. Without explicitly trying to refute what Wasserman was saying, liberal co-hosts Krystal Ball and Kornacki both confessed to have an appreciation for Golden Corral, still, they seemed very pleased with themselves that liberal voters tend to be affiliated with higher-end brands.
For his part and to his credit, Wasserman noted that many Whole Foods store parking lots are filled with pricey gas-guzzling SUVs, hardly the sort of "green" hybrids or electrics that you'd expect liberal shoppers to drive around in.