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OpinionOpEd

Do you vote what you drink?

Do you vote what you drink?

Do you vote what you drink? Photo Credit: iStock

Did you know that Democrats drink more than Republicans? Or that they are likelier to choose clear liquors, whereas Republicans tend toward the darker ones? That voters who skew most Republican favor Jim Beam? That those who skew most Democratic go for Seagram's gin?

I didn't. And frankly, I'd take such findings with a shaker of salt. You wonder how honest anyone would be with a stranger asking about drinking and politics in the same conversation.

No matter. If you're feeling tongue-tied among people you barely know at a holiday party, here's a subject that can serve as a safe icebreaker. It's amusing, spicy and political, but not bitterly partisan. The report is by National Media Research, Planning and Placement -- a Republican consulting firm. Its conclusions are based on a survey of more than 50,000 consumers. More details in a minute.

First, let's put in a kind word for the cocktail party as a traditional no-fly zone for strife, including the partisan kind. In the age of Ronald Reagan, Republican and Democratic lawmakers would end their days socializing over drinks, often creating social bonds that facilitated cooperation later. Nowadays, each party retreats to its own bunker.

The cocktail party, born in the 1920s, was above politics -- except perhaps the politics of Prohibition. It was highly unlikely, though not impossible, that those backing the ban on the sale and production of alcoholic beverages would be in attendance.

The policy disaster that was Prohibition did advance the cause of gender equality. The cocktail party became the place where women could drink and smoke with men -- previously not done in polite society.

Under Prohibition, drinking was still permitted in one's home -- and that is where much of it moved. Women felt still freer to partake behind those protected walls.

Out of this swirl emerged a new language of dress for women, as described in "Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920-1980." For women, the shorter cocktail dress became acceptable after-dark attire, with makeup and perfume adding to the intoxicating mix.

Pollsters didn't call these sophisticated ladies and gentlemen and inquire into their political leanings. First off, polling back then was rather primitive, as well as less pervasive and invasive. But more to the point, with Prohibition in full force, telling a pollster what you drank, depending on where, could be an admission of criminal activity.

We are in a post-dress-up era. So time to end the chitchat on how people array themselves for social drinking and drill down to what they drink and what they think, politicswise.

Interestingly, voters with the highest turnout on both the Republican and Democratic sides tend to be wine drinkers. There may be nothing to the following observation, but high-turnout Democrats tend to patronize Washington state vineyards Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle, whereas high-turnout Republicans go for California wines Kendall-Jackson and Robert Mondavi.

Among voters with the lowest turnout, Democrats choose Don Julio tequila, and Republicans prefer Jagermeister, syrupy and brown.

Oddly, the beverage for high-turnout voters who skew Democratic is something called Smoking Loon. What the heck is Smoking Loon? Oh, it's a winery. As already noted, the author of the report is Republican.

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