Last month the president of fast-food chain Chik-fil-A publicly stated that the company opposed same-sex marriage. The restaurant then became a flash point in the struggle around who has the right to get married. Supporters of marriage equality called for boycotts, but opponents of same-sex marriage participated in Chik-fil-A, organized by Republican former governor of Arkansas (and Fox News commentator) Mike Huckabee. Huge numbers of people turned out to patronize the store last Wednesday, leading to enormous lines and long waits at some locations, and intense media coverage of the event.
So Chik-fil-A became clearly associated with the anti-same-sex marriage camp, and more generally with the conservative movement. But what about other restaurants?
Reader Peter N., of Pitzer College, sent in an image posted by the Los Angeles Times showing the politics and political engagement of patrons of a number of restaurants, as well as Whole Foods. A market research firm’s survey asked respondents if they had gone to any of these restaurants in the past 30 days (7 for Whole Foods), political leanings, and likelihood of voting. In this graph, the larger the bubble, the more respondents said they had gone to the restaurant. Those left of the center line had a disproportionate number of Democratic customers, while those to the right attracted Republicans. The higher the bubble on the graph, the more likely its customers were to vote:
Aside from the political patterns, notice the differences in likelihood of voting. Generally, customers at sit-down restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and Macaroni Grill were more likely to vote than those at fast-food places, though there are a few exceptions (Denny’s, Hooters). This probably reflects class differences in voting: the restaurants in the upper half of the graph are generally more expensive than the fast-food places or chains like Denny’s, and they require more leisure time for a meal compared to getting a pre-made, or quickly-made, combo at the drive-through. Those with the money and time to spend on such restaurants are the same groups who are more likely to vote in general.