Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tribal politics

We think we choose our politics based upon dispassionate reason, or at least some of us like to think so.  However, market researchers have a different view of the electorate:  we are members of cultural tribes.

If you read the NY Times or Washington Post, drink congnac, brandy, gin, or Heinekin, drive a hybrid, Suburu, or Audi, browse the internet for personal ads or dating, or do job searches, eat at Popyes, White Castle, or Church's Chicken, watch Lifetime, Bravo, CNN, or MSNBC - you are in the tribal demographics more likely to vote Democrat in elections.  And you will likely be targeted by Democrats to get your vote.

If you read the Washington Times or the Wall Street Journal, drink Amstel Light,  Michelob Ultra, or Canadian whiskey, drive a Land Rover, Isuzu, or Lexus, browse the internet for sports updates, financial services, or weather, eat at Cracker Barrel, Macaroni Grill, or Schlotsky's Deli, watch Fox News, the Golf Channel, or the History channel - you are in the tribal demographics more likely to vote Republican in elections.  And you will likely be targeted by Republicans to get your vote.

Here are some fascinating results of this kind of marketing research:

One of the things I find interesting in the above data is that Republicans apparently use the internet more than Democrats.  Who knew?

So, where does that leave the upcoming election?  There is an interesting thought that the opening of the campaign financing to superpac money will have the odd result of moving the campaigns more to the center.  The idea is that when campaign money is tight, both Democrats and Republicans need to focus almost all of their money on their base - to hybrid buyers or Land Rover buyers, for example.  But, now that Citizens-United opened up the money coffers, there may be so much money available for campaigns that each side might go after venues that are populated by those in the middle - those who watch ESPN, read USA today, drink Bud Light or scotch, drive Chevrolets or Fords, browse the internet for movie listings, use email, eat at McDonald's, Wendy's and Subway, and watch TNT and the Animal Planet.

There is hope for us after all.