The Tim Hortons crowd is a blue collar bunch. They like their taxes low, the government out of their face and their leaders the kind you could have over for a beer. And, of course, they vote Conservative. Right?
After arguing last week that the image of the effete, Starbucks-drinking Liberal voter is more rhetoric than reality, a similar analysis of the more than 3,000 Tim Hortons locations from coast to coast to coast indicates a voter's preference for a double-double does not make them a Tory or a Liberal, but rather just an average Canadian.
A cup of Tim Hortons coffee can be found in virtually every part of the country, and this is demonstrated by the distribution of the chain's outlets in the 308 federal ridings. There is almost no difference between the average number of Tim Hortons locations in each of the ridings currently held by the three national parties.
Contrary to public perception, the Conservatives come out last among the three federal parties with an average of about nine Tim Hortons shops per riding. The Liberals have an average of slightly less than 11 locations per riding, while the New Democrats come out on top with slightly more than 11. The Bloc Québécois has an average of only five locations per riding, perhaps indicating that Quebeckers have been slow to adopt the quintessentially Canadian chain.
The myth of the Tim Hortons crowd, however, is not completely without foundation. Of the top 10 per cent of ridings in terms of store density, the Conservatives hold 12 of them, compared to 10 held by the Liberals and eight by the NDP.
The general result of this analysis should come as no surprise. As mentioned in the study of Starbucks density and voting habits, polls have shown there is absolutely nothing that connects coffee preference to political ideology. The relevant poll conducted by Harris-Decima in 2009 showed that the proportion of Liberal, New Democratic, and Conservative voters who preferred Tim Hortons to Starbucks were virtually identical for each party.
But what of the caffeine-addicted, jittery Canadian? Six ridings, located in Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls, made it in the top 30 in both Starbucks and Tim Hortons density. Each of these ridings have more than 30 stores selling either pedestrian Tim's or pricey Seattle-based coffee, not to mention the plethora of smaller chains and independent coffee shops these neighbourhoods support.
These six ridings are divided up equally among the three national parties, with two of them voting Liberal, two Conservative, and two New Democratic. But the average vote in them broke for the Liberals with 36 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for the Conservatives and 25 per cent for the NDP.
Of the four party leaders, Gilles Duceppe's riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, Stephen Harper's riding of Calgary Southwest, and Jack Layton's riding of Toronto-Danforth all have about the same number of Tim Hortons locations within their boundaries. But Michael Ignatieff's riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore eclipses the others in Tim Hortons density, with almost three times as many locations.
However, these four men spend most of their time on Parliament Hill. Though the Prime Minister is reportedly not fond of coffee, he should have no trouble finding a cup of hot chocolate in any of the more than 100 Tim Hortons locations in and around the national capital, a region represented by politicians from all political stripes.
Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at ThreeHundredEight.com