Sugar Spans the Partisan Divide

Public Opinion Strategies has a candy bowl at the front desk.  The selection of candy is expertly curated by our office manager, who can tell you the candy preference of almost everyone on staff.  On my several-times-daily trip to the front for a mini Krackle Bar, I’ve learned that some of the POS partners prefer dark chocolate, while others strictly stick to pink Starbursts (it’s a POS policy all survey responses remain anonymous).

In October of 2017, Morning Consult asked 2,201 U.S. adults what their candy preferences were in light of the upcoming holiday.  Overall, Americans preferred chocolate treats to sugary (Hershey’s over Pixie Sticks, for example).  Morning Consult provided respondents with a list of 40 different candies, ranging from Skittles to Hot Tamales to Kit Kat Bars.  Forty-five percent of respondents said their favorite was Reese’s, distantly followed by Snickers at 31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, and M&M’s at 20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}.

My favorite candy places me squarely in the realm of outlier.  My favorite treat is a Hawaiian spin on a classic: Li Hing Sour Hula Keiki.  In plain English, it’s Sour Patch Kids (keiki is the Hawaiian word for kids) covered in salted, dried plum powder, which makes the snack salty, sweet, and sour.  Only four percent of Morning Consult respondents preferred Sour Patch, and a full 16{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} said it was their least favorite candy (plain, not Hawaiian style).

Morning Consult also asked a series of more typical survey research questions, including direction of the country and presidential job approval.  Amongst all adults in October 2017, 40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of respondents approved of the job Donald Trump was doing, while 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapproved.  The trend held steady when looking at candy preference.

The same is true when considering the mood of the country.

But before the Trump re-election campaign starts handing out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at rallies, in 2014 the Washington Post examined nearly 50,000 interviews about candy preference, partisanship, and voter turnout, and found no significant connections.  Simply, candy isn’t seen as a political expression of values, unlike something like car choice.

What the Washington Post did find was that M&M’s span the partisan divide from their wide variety of offerings (peanut, crispy, dark, etc), and occupy spots on all parts of their chart.



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