On November 8, American voters will pour out to the polls. They’ll select their best fit for the leader of United States, whether it’s current democratic frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, or Republican Party shoe-in Donald Trump.
The issues are largely centered on climate change, police brutality against African-Americans, minimum wage, immigration restrictions, and religious liberty. But there may be another factor pulling at voter heartstrings: their favorite candidate’s fast food of choice.
To find out more, we looked at the Federal Election Commission’s campaign data per candidate. Which food chains will lead one presidential hopeful to victory? Keep reading to find out.
Campaign donations and funds are spent in countless ways, and for these presidential hopefuls, fast food chains took a bite out of their piggy banks.
We looked at last year’s top 100 restaurant chains by revenue, as listed by NRN.com. (We excluded locations that also sold fuel.) And while the figures pale in comparison to total campaign spending, the data are still telling.
It should come as no surprise to Trump supporters that his campaign’s eatery of choice is McDonald’s, considering his 30-second bit with Grimace many years before his candidacy.
With $896 spent at McDonald’s, Trump could purchase 236 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches – The Donald’s preferred order.
“I think the food is good. I think all of those places, Burger King, McDonald’s, I can live with it,” he said. “The other night I had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not the worst thing in the world.”
Bernie Sanders’s campaign definitely runs on Panera Bread. Coming in hot with $2,633 worth of sandwiches and baked goods, these democrats are the runner-up for most money spent on a specific chain by $4,098.
But the candidate with the biggest portion of her campaign allocated to these favorite food stops is by far Hillary Clinton, who has spent a whopping $6,731 at Domino’s.
A Pennsylvania pizzeria, knowing her affinity for pizza, welcomed the former first lady to town with a “Madam President” pie; that item remained on the menu for a week. While it wasn’t Domino’s-brand, the buffalo chicken pizza with spicy hot sauce that was baked into the shape of Clinton’s campaign logo still cost $13.95. It’s just another slice in the pie chart of Clinton’s campaign spending.
Breakdown of Presidential Contenders’s Food Spending
Each candidate may have his or her fast food of choice, but that hasn’t stopped them from frequenting other eateries on the campaign trail. Favorites among the Trump campaign include Jason’s Deli – their largest individual spend was $513.70 in Tampa, Florida – Subway, and Applebee’s.
Outside of Panera Bread, Sanders also keeps his campaign energized with Dunkin’ Donuts – they once dropped $888 at a location in New Hampshire – followed by Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Domino’s.
But compared to her Democratic rival, Clinton is clearly the bigger pizza fan. Her campaign once spent close to $2,000 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at a Domino’s location – with Pizza Hut accounting for just 5 percent of her fast-food spending. Her team would rather go to Jimmy John’s any day.
Who Spends the Most on Mexican Food?
The Democratic leaders enjoy their share of Mexican cuisine. The Sanders campaign has spent close to $8,300. Clinton’s campaign has dished out nearly $5,000, even sending the presidential candidate into a Chipotle in Iowa to order a burrito herself.
The numbers sharply decline with the GOP frontrunner. The Trump campaign shelled out just $668. (It’s also worth noting the candidate’s stance on immigration reform, which includes building a wall to separate Mexico from the United States.) But that didn’t stop him from cheesin’ with the cuisine on an opportune holiday:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016
Which Candidate Spends the Most at Watering Holes?
As primary season winds to a close, voters on both sides are scratching their heads, wondering how anyone could support a candidate outside of their own.
Sometimes, the answer behind the popular vote is alarmingly simple: He or she is the guy or gal you’d want to have a beer with. It was the case when George W. Bush edged out John Kerry in 2004, and it could be the case this year.
Of the three candidates, it’s the Trump campaign that enjoys its libations the least, with $2,484 spent in alcohol-related restaurants. Bloom’s Tavern in New York is a familiar haunt for the team, though they also visited Anassa Taverna in New York, American Tap Room in Richmond, McDaids Irish Pub & Restaurant in Raleigh, and 405 Pub and Grill in Laconia – among others.
Sanders enjoys his fair share of bar-restaurant establishments, dishing out $9,408 at places like the Iowa Taproom as well as Court Avenue Brewing in Des Moines, Networks Bar and Grill in Texas, Fegley’s Allentown Brew Works in Pennsylvania, Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Queens, the British Beer Company in New Hampshire, and Rí Rá Irish Pub in his senatorial state of Vermont.
Clinton’s aperitif allotment comes in at $14,067. The big spender’s campaign could be found, notably, at Exile Brewing Company in Iowa and City Winery in Georgia, where she dropped $3,716.04 and $3,946.72 respectively – the two highest checks among all four candidates.
As Trump, Clinton, and Sanders race for the presidency, there is no expense they won’t pay for fast food, from pizza to fries. Should their preferences sway the general voting population or weigh on their political platforms? Perhaps not. But the results do humanize them. Even presidential hopefuls have cravings.
We can only speculate what will happen come Election Day – whether Hillary and her “hot” pizza will win out, or if Bernie and his doughnuts will close the gap, or if Trump and his Big Macs will prevail.
Until then, the race continues.
Data records were collected from the FEC candidate expenditure report for dates between January 12, 2015, to March 31, 2016.
Favorite Food Chains, by Campaign Expenditure:
Spending data were limited to the top 100 U.S. chains, by revenue as listed by NRN.com for 2015, excluding stores that sell fuel such as Costco, Casey’s General Store, Circle K, Wawa, and 7-Eleven.
Candidates’ Favorite Food Chains, as a Proportion of Total:
Pie charts depict the top 10 food chains per each candidate with all other restaurants grouped as “other.”
Campaign Spending on Mexican Cuisine:
Spending data were limited to restaurant names featuring select keywords in their name as well as chains that appeared on a list of top-rated Tex-Mex chains by the Daily Meal.
Campaign Spending on Alcohol-Related Establishments:
Spending data were limited to restaurant names featuring select keywords in their name.
Donald Trump Factoid:
Trump spending on Trump-owned properties was limited to recipients that featured the name “Trump” in the title.
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