Given the looming presidential election, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the popularity of wine varies between states that traditionally vote Republican and Democrat. Based on my analysis of household level consumer spending data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wine is the number one alcoholic beverage in Blue states with a 41% share of the market, while beer holds the top position in Red states with a 43% cut of consumer spending on alcohol.
To be fair, beer is the most popular drink in both, as even in Blue states more households report “purchasing” beer than wine. Nonetheless, the charts below illustrate considerable variation in wine’s popularity across Red states, Blue states and states deemed to be “battlegrounds” in the 2020 election.
Households in Blue states spend an estimated $274 per year on average – nearly double the $142 spent in Red states. Similarly, 14.2% of Blue state households reported purchasing wine during the past week compared to just 8.6% in Red states. The Battleground states fall between these extremes.
The variation in wine’s popularity is partly due to demographic factors such age, racial/ethnic composition, income, and education, which are highly correlated with wine consumption. But social and cultural factors appear to be more definitive as the differentials persist even after demographics are accounted for.
So, what does this portend for the outcome of the upcoming election, you ask? Probably very little. Beer’s market share has fallen since the 2016 election in both Red and Blue states – but other alcoholic drinks such as spirits and hard seltzers have been the beneficiaries – not wine. The same trend holds in the critical battleground states. The analysis does, however, suggest there may be a bigger pop in champagne sales if the Democrats win the election on Tuesday!
On a more serious note, the outcome of the 2020 election does have implications for the wine industry. Like Trump, Biden does not drink alcohol nor has he taken a strong position on alcohol consumption, so a major policy shift in this area appears unlikely. However, the contrast between the candidates’ broader social and economic policy agendas is much sharper, thus a change in administrations would certainly shift the set of opportunities and risks the industry will face in the years ahead.
In any event, let’s hope for a safe election next week and speedy determination of a winner.
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