A unique poll shows correlation between food & voting

American’s dietary habits reveal similarities and differences with what’s in their grocery carts and how they will vote.

Amanda Radke

October 27, 2020

5 Min Read

With six days until the U.S. election, many of us are paying attention to what the polls, pundits and our friends on social media are saying about who will become the ultimate victor in this incredibly divisive race.

Depending on the news source, the poll data provided on the survey results can either read like fact or fiction. And despite our best guesses at predicting the electorate and how the states will swing, I don’t know if any of us are truly certain on how this election will play out.

To offer some levity, and perhaps on clarity, on the extreme ends in which American view life, society, politics and even food, here’s a poll for all of us to chew on.

Turns out, how you vote may also play a role in how you eat. Yet, despite our perceived differences, what we put on our plate may be the thing that unites us all.

Perishable Preferences and Category Partners recently conducted a poll on Americans’ dietary habits as they relate to their preferred presidential candidate.

According to a press release from Perishable Foods, “A recent Category Partners study of 2,000 consumers with a nationally representative sample across age, region, income, race and gender delved into the divide of the political parties and their eating habits. The study uncovered how often consumers eat different fresh foods from each perishable department of the retail store, where they most often shop and what types of foods they look for, and…. which presidential candidate each of the polled consumers support.

Related:Trump & Biden clash on ag policy

“Category Partners withheld individual candidate preference results, choosing instead to focus reporting on the relationship between candidate affiliation and fresh food preference. That said, the majority (85%) of those polled chose either President Donald Trump or Vice President Joe Biden with 13% stating that they would either not be voting or have not yet decided which candidate they will be voting for in November. Kanye West and other candidates such as Jo Jorgensen, Bernie Sanders and Mark Charles collectively garnered support from 2% of those polled.

“The results were refreshing. They revealed that while Americans may be divided on which candidate they want for president, they are not that divided on the fresh foods they consume. For example, 56% of Joe Biden supporters claimed they eat fresh fruits and vegetables at least daily while 54% of Donald Trump supporters said the same. Similarly, in the dairy department, 59% of Trump supporters claimed to consume dairy products at least daily while 58% of Biden supporters enjoy dairy products at least daily.

Related:How the COVID-19 crisis is changing grocery shopping

The notable difference in the study was in the meat category. This may or may not surprise you, but here is what the study found:

“The largest disparity between Trump and Biden supporters is found in the meat department with 33% of Biden supporters eating meat at least daily compared to 40% of Trump supporters.”

What’s more, the survey revealed, “While neither of the two major candidates seem able to agree on just about anything, the Americans that support them agree on quite a bit regarding what they like to eat. In the produce department Trump and Biden supporters agree that potatoes are their favorite vegetable and strawberries are their favorite fruit. In dairy, cheddar cheese won the day as the most preferred cheese for all Americans. Interestingly, while only a handful of respondents chose Kanye West, they chose broccoli as their favorite vegetable.

Again, while most of our dietary choices are similar, there was a distinct difference in preferences at the meat case.

According to the study results, “The only disparity, albeit minor, between the supporters of the presidential candidates comes in the meat department where chicken (39%) seems to be the preference for Biden supporters and beef (41%) the most often chosen meat for Trump supporters.”

Tom Barnes, Category Partners’ CEO, noted, “While we were not surprised by the results, it felt good to confirm that all Americans are pretty much the same despite some loud voices out there claiming political supporters of the other candidate ‘must be insane.’ As my grandfather would always say – we all still put our pants on one leg at a time, and I would add that we all still prefer to eat fresh foods as often as possible. We aren’t all that different.”

Perishable Foods reports, “As Category Partners dug further into the demographics, our preferences do change with age. This is true for both our presidential candidate preference and how often we consume different foods from the perishable departments.

“Of those polled that claimed they never eat meat, the younger the consumer the more likely in Biden’s camp they are. Consistently, those who eat meat at least daily shifted further into Trump’s camp the older the respondents are.”

So where are Trump and Biden shoppers getting their groceries? The survey revealed different preferences in consumer shopping hangouts, as well.

According to the survey, “When respondents were asked where they prefer to shop, Category Partners found that Trump supporters are slightly more likely to shop at superstores or club warehouses, while Biden supporters are more likely to shop at natural/specialty stores. This also coincides with the types of foods Biden supporters prefer to buy as they lean more toward purchasing organic and sustainably farmed fresh foods than those supporting Trump.

Cara Ammon, Category Partners’ Senior Vice President, Research and Market Intel, added, “While there is a slight difference in shopping behaviors among the supporters of either candidate, the differences are minor. Those looking for a certain type of food or prefer to shop at a particular type of store can be found supporting both major presidential candidates.”

Ammon concluded, “Come Nov. 4, we may or may not have a new leader of our nation, but all Americans will still be eating fresh foods from all of the perishable departments of their local stores and farmers markets. Whether it be cheddar cheese on their sandwich and strawberries to snack on, or mashed potatoes for dinner, it appears that no matter your political persuasion we can all agree on the fact that fresh food is important to us all.”

What do you think about these survey results? Anything about the poll surprise you? This study offers us a unique opportunity to study consumers on both sides of aisle, which could help the beef industry market and campaign to different audiences based on their dietary preferences.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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