- Despite partisan divides, Americans generally eat the same stuff on Thanksgiving.
- However, there are all sorts of dishes that are favoured by people of differing political stripes.
- More conservative people liked green bean casserole, ham, and cornbread dressing, while more liberal people were more likely to have Brussels sprouts, non-canned cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.
America comes together every year for a dinner, but what’s served at that dinner varies considerably due to a number of factors like region, ethnic backgrounds, and traditions. But what about politics?
We conducted a nationwide survey using SurveyMonkey Audience. We got 1,217 individual respondents on November 16 and 17, 2018, and asked them to select all the dishes they expected would appear on their Thanksgiving table this year. All told, 1,211 respondents identified 11,153 expected plates of birds and sides at the table this Thanksgiving.
On the same poll, we asked about respondents’ political beliefs. They responded on a seven-point scale – very conservative, moderately conservative, slightly conservative, neither conservative nor liberal, slightly liberal, moderately liberal, very liberal, or “rather not say.” Political alignments were shared by 1,043 respondents.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where people with strongly differing political views often come together and share a meal. But we did actually find some rather interesting trends in the data, dishes that really did seem to stand out among different political sets. This might be related to political geography hardening a bit, linking political outlook more directly to rural and urban divides or regional distinctions.
In the end, these are correlations and do not indicate causation. It’s not like support for a robust welfare state makes Brussels sprouts any easier to swallow, and it’s not like one bite of green bean casserole will make you want a tax cut. But as geography becomes political destiny, it makes sense that gastronomy follows.
The most shocking finding? The conservative-liberal divide has infected our cranberry-sauce preferences.
Dishes more likely to appear at conservative (moderate or very) respondents’ Thanksgivings:
- Green bean casserole (+9 percentage points more conservative than liberal)
- Ham (+9 points)
- Cornbread dressing (+8 points)
- Creamed corn (+8 points)
- Canned cranberry sauce (+7 points)
- Rolls (+7 points)
- Macaroni and cheese (+6 points)
- Croissants (+5 points)
- Smoked turkey (+5 points)
- Gravy (+5 points)
Dishes more likely to appear at liberal (moderate or very) respondents’ Thanksgivings:
- Brussels sprouts (+8 percentage points more liberal than conservative)
- Cranberry sauce, prepared (+8 points)
- Mashed potatoes (+8 points)
- Butternut squash (+6 points)
- Green beans (+5 points)
- Artichokes (+4 points)
- Cauliflower (+4 points)
- Caesar salad (+4 points)
- Roasted potatoes (+3 points)
- In-bird stuffing (+3 points)
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,217 respondents, margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points with 95% confidence level.