This Chronicle article comes to me via a local political blog, The Left Coaster, which curiously is also the name of the regular column I write for the Ale Street News, which in turn is located on the other coast.
Matier and Ross’ column today, The Bay Area could be the Clinton-Obama decider, contains this bit of wisdom from long-time state pollster Mark DiCamillo, dividing democratic voting patterns according to one’s preference for beer or wine.
I’m not exactly sure what to make of that. You’d have to search far and wide to find someone more liberal than myself, I’m reasonably well-educated, but I definitely would prefer to pair that cheese with beer. After all, the notion that wine and cheese work well together is really just a myth. And frankly, either candidate on those labels is pretty scary looking.
Not surprisingly, most of my friends are like-minded, so either DiCamillo is way off the mark or more probably, I’m so far removed from the pulse of the people that I don’t even register. I’m most likely the guy in their 2% plus or minus margin for error, so rarely do I agree with any of the choices polls usually offer. For example I’m not particularly wild about either Clinton or Obama, and think our media is doing its usual disservice to society by so nakedly picking sides so early in the campaign process. All the candidates are supposed to get equal time, but because they cover only who they want to and who they decide are the front-runners, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that subverts the very idea of a democracy.
But enough proof that I’m on the fringe, is DiCamillo suggesting that the more liberal and/or educated one is, the more likely that person is to prefer wine over beer? With Sonoma and Napa Counties, along with several others, so close to the Bay Area, it’s no surprise that we’re awash in wine lovers. But perhaps DiCamillo is unaware that this same area, the San Francisco Bay Area, might also be the second most important region in the country for craft beer. And the demographic that most frequently goes for craft beer? You guessed it; liberal and educated. Of course, craft beer drinkers are only a fraction of the total beer picture (though in the Bay Area we’re well above the national average) but doesn’t cheap table and box wine sell pretty well, too? And lets not ignore the many people who enjoy both beer and wine.
My only point in all of this is to ponder whether or not the traditional stereotype of beer as blue-collar and wine as white-collar might not be as true as it once was (if indeed it really ever was true), and especially when applied to craft beer? Better beer seems to cut across class lines to a great extent, at least it seems to me that you see all stratas of people at beer festivals, beer dinners and the like.
According to Ross and Matier, “[t]he big showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could come down to California’s ‘beer-drinking Democrats’ versus its ‘wine and cheese’ liberals — with the Bay Area playing a pivotal role in the outcome.” I’m not sure about those labels, they just seem a bit outdated and too simple-minded for my tastes.