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03.24.2011

Drink Like Your Political Party

Forget Red States and Blue States, now there are Wine States and Beer States. While alcohol of choice isn't exactly going to be the best way to demarcate political affiliation at any point, apparently there are some pretty clear differences when you look at the political donations from alcohol producers to legislators.

I know this will come as a shock, but...

Democrats = wine
Republicans = beer

Of course, it's not completely black and white, but that's the general trend. According to the web site OpenSecrets.Org, which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics, Democratic lawmakers get more contributions from wine companies than beer and spirits companies, and Republican lawmakers are just the opposite.

The question is, why does this not come as a big surprise? Because I'm a democrat and I love wine and I live in California which is both generally Democratic and the country's largest producer of wine? I'm not sure that it's quite that easy, but that might have something to do with it.

For the most part, the largest political contributions made by the wine industry come from California, and so it stands to reason that they would tend to support Democratic causes more. And while it's not quite so consistent, a lot of the big breweries come from states that tend to be Republican controlled (Coors in Colorado, for instance).

The biggest wine and spirits companies tend to spread money around across parties, it seems. Anheuser-Busch InBev contributed equally across party lines last year, according to the report.

So why should we care about this? Well for starters, it may be relevant in the upcoming fight over the heinous piece of legislation called HR1161, which you should contact your congressional representative about, and make sure they vote against it if it comes up for a vote.

Second, it's also worth noting what a puny little amount of money wine producers in particular, and alcohol producers in general spend in Washington compared to other industries. Alcohol producers in aggregate give a few paltry million dollars, compared to say $38 million by the National Association of Realtors. Perhaps someone with more math skills than I could normalize the contributions by size of each industry and see whether, as I suspect, the wine and spirits industry isn't working the American system quite as well as it could be.

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