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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.

Read the full article.

Comments (9)

Tara Poropat wrote:
03.25.11 at 6:52 AM

I do love wine...and yes, I am more liberal than conservative...but, who doesn't like a nice cold beer after a long day? I wonder what the bipartisan drink of choice would be...bourbon or gin?

Andy wrote:
03.25.11 at 8:56 AM

Can't we all just drink along?

Vic Motto wrote:
03.25.11 at 9:42 AM

Of course Tea Party members drink tea and Green Party members drink green tea. That makes tea non-partisan.

Independents of course, drink whatever they please.

David White wrote:
03.25.11 at 9:47 AM

Alder -

One reason this is fascinating is because booze is a hyper-regulated industry. If you look at other super regulated industries (pharmaceuticals and financial services) the numbers blow beer, wine, and spirits away.

That said, the opensecrets site doesn't cover spending for state and local campaigns (contributions, lobbying, etc.), and that's where the big bucks are spent with regards to booze. (Booze is mostly regulated at the state level, thanks to the bastardization of the 21st Amendment). Between 2000 and 2006, the wholesaling industry spent more than $50 million contributing money to those running for statewide offices.

Steve wrote:
03.25.11 at 9:56 AM

Prohibition was really about playing to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic sentiment for political power and today's controversy on direct shipping is a continuation of that fight.

03.25.11 at 2:24 PM

Shakira said "Hips Don't Lie"... well, neither do pocketbooks!
Thanks for bringing this to light! If you look at the figures there are some pretty big figures in the blue corner that like to make their money from Beer. I would like to see what the exact contribution figure for the National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC is... I would bet that it is pretty high figure, I mean their keynote speaker the year I went to the convention was just some Republican that didn't want to run for president at the time named Colin Powell... I think they have some clout!

Anonymous wrote:
03.28.11 at 10:12 AM

So what do Libertarians drink?

Mark wrote:
03.28.11 at 10:14 AM

38M a year from Realtors! Wow! In this real estate market? The flow of dollars is an interesting discussion in regard to this type of special interest legislation and one which is only now being talked about.

As for the red state/blue state issue....yeah I think that's been clear for a while now in this country. Wine is becoming more popular across all groups of people with larger cities generally increasing consumption and average dollars per bottle.

Tom wrote:
03.29.11 at 1:11 PM

Alcohol is hyper-regulated, but mostly at the state and local level, not federally. So you'd expect to see more contributions there, like from distributors in MD to prevent out-of-state retailers from selling to MD customers.

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