A couple of months ago, my friend and colleague, Don Russell — who often writes under the non de plume Joe Sixpack — wrote a provocative article declaring Craft-Beer Drinkers to Decide Election. With the presidential election tomorrow, I thought it fitting to take another look at that.
Russell ranked “the states by brewery density — the number of breweries per 1,000 square miles.” From that, a pattern emerged. Of the 25 states with the highest concentration of breweries, all of them voted for the Democratic candidate in 2008; what statisticians call a “positive correlation.” His interpretation:
The density of breweries in a state is at least partly related to the density of its population; the more people, the more breweries. Obama performs better in densely populated states because urban populations tend to be more diverse and liberal.
Naturally, the reverse is true: States with fewer breweries per square mile overwhelmingly vote Republican.
Another colleague, Jeff Alworth in Portland, Oregon, disagreed with Russell’s analysis and said so in Gerrymandered! Craft Beer Is No Proxy for Political Leanings. He believes brewery density is the wrong metric to use, preferring breweries per capita. I confess that’s a statistic I’ve never warmed to, for no particular reason except that it seems to unfairly favor states with less people in many cases.
Russell doesn’t examine that, but he does also look at states by per capita beer consumption. In that instance, no illuminating trends appear. “Of the 10 biggest beer-drinking states, five voted for Obama in 2008, and five backed Sen. John McCain of Arizona.”
In the end, according to Russell. “What’s really important here is the type of beer voters are drinking.” Whichever way the election goes tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if any of this holds true. I can’t help but like the idea of craft beer deciding elections, however far-fetched. Still, the important thing is to drink craft beer … and vote. I want to see that bumper sticker: “I’m a craft beer drinker and I vote.”
UPDATE: As Stan Hieronymus points out, I was remiss in not including Beer Drinkers For Obama.