Just when you thought political polarization could not get worse, even autumnal flavors and scents have a partisan divide. Pumpkin spice emerged as a flavor and scent phenomenon at Starbucks in 2003, and has since become a consumer juggernaut appearing in everything from cookies to condoms. But recently its proliferation has been stalled by a potential rival; maple flavoring.  And in the contest between these two pungent personalities, Americans appear to make their decision along political lines.

Pumpkin is not dethroned – yet.

This race is pumpkin’s to lose. Today, 35 percent agree that pumpkin flavored products are “one of my favorite things about fall,” comparable to two years ago (38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2015). No downward trending numbers for this orange-colored object!  In fact, pumpkin spice adoration is ten points higher than rival maple flavoring. Just 25 percent say maple-flavored foods and beverages are one of their favorite things about the season.

Most Americans prefer none of the above.

Just as some voters expressed in a higher profile competition last autumn, many Americans prefer neither pumpkin spice nor maple. When asked to think about foods and beverages that often appear in the fall, a majority of Americans (51 percent) say they do not have a preference between pumpkin and maple flavored foods and beverages.  Pumpkin only has a slight edge over maple (24 percent to 19 percent) in this direct match-up, indicating that upstart maple may be able to dethrone the reigning pumpkin prince eventually.

Politics predicts fall flavor preference.

As with most things these days, even fall flavors fall out along partisan lines.  Republicans prefer pumpkin over maple by a two-to-one margin, while Democrats and independents are more divided in their preference as seen here.  Perhaps more progressive voters are moving on to maple.

The politics of pumpkin may not be as divisive as issues like health care or guns, but the contents of voters’ cupboards may be fairly predictive of political fortunes heading into the 2018 election year.

Public Opinion Strategies