Am I Drinking Because of the Price or the Election?


We saw this sign in the window of a local wine store offering a 10 percent discount on selected brands until 9 p.m. on election night. The owner had noticed that people tend to buy wine on Election Day — either to celebrate or to nurse their wounded egos if their candidate loses.

Election parties may be big in New York, but it turns out that, nationally, overall alcohol sales don’t tend to change all that much on Election Day. In fact, selling alcohol while the polls are open is illegal or restricted in seven states (including Indiana, one of this year’s surprise swing states). The bans are the residue of an earlier era, when saloons and taverns were often used as polling places.

One state that’s definitely not on this list is New Mexico, where it’s technically legal to vote under the influence (as long as you’re not wearing campaign paraphernalia at the same time).

But the New Mexico case raises an interesting question; what has a bigger influence on decision-making: alcohol intoxication or political advertising?


I filled out my mail-in ballot last week with the TV on and a six pack by my side. I don't think my decisions were affected but the decline in my box-filling abilities as the night went on could make things interesting should a recount be needed.


They were giving away a free cup of coffee today at Starbucks if you voted. All you had to do was say yes when the asked the question, "Did you vote today?"

Nobody laughed, or got it, when I asked for a large, oops grande, and told them I voted twice. I had to pay the difference.


@ HairySwede

I don't know what exactly you were thinking, but levitt and dubner wrote an article called "Why Vote?" a while back:


Why Vote? Thats it. Perfect. Thank you.

Ill check out the article by Caplan also. Thanks.


I'd say it's drinking the Kool Aid that has the greatest effect.


Folks at a party I may join tonight plan to have wine on the table, and will later open champagne or Jack Daniels, depending on who wins :-) .

Eric M. Jones

Now WHO would vote Republican while stone cold sober?


Recently I read something about incentives and voting. and that people who vote really aren't acting all that rationally. And now I can't find it. Anyone have any ideas?

Because while whoever wins or loses wont drive me to drink, not being able to find that article might.


@ HairySwede, Gordon Tullock has written a lot on irrational voting, (I think), but I the best might be Bryan Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter"; quite recent, and now required reading in some Public Economics classes. (eg. mine)

It was available electronically for a while as a 'beta', but now it's been published it may not be.

Here's his homepage, if it's any help

Leland Witter

Why would you put something on sale if you already know that more people already buy the product on a given day? Aren't you giving away profit? Shouldn't you discount on days people don't usually buy?

This reminds me of a talk I attended where a retailer realized through data analysis that they were giving profit away by always discounting charcoal whenever they had grills on sale. Most people buying a new grill will buy charcoal anyway, so why give the money away?

They ran tests in different stores and proved that they shouldn't discount both.


Leland Witter,

Simple. To make people buy from your store, rather than a competitor.


In this equation I'd have to hold the intoxication and political advertising both as constants (for me anyway). Thus I'm left to deduce my decision-making is unaffected by variables. Thus: destiny.


Prior to casting your vote on election day, those that drink shouldn’t, and those that don’t should. It’s not the wine or the money ? both will go bad shortly.

How long before this election goes bad is why I visit the Freakonomists.


Does a drunken NM voter help the Democrats or Republicans? I am not sure since I have never debatted political beer goggles!