June 18, 2012 -- Trying to escape the partisan bickering and political pandering that is dominating this election season? Good luck. Those party lines may extend much farther than you think.
From choosing where to get that morning coffee fix to which car you bought to get you there, your political party association may be driving those purchase decisions.
Republicans, for example, are more likely to head to Dunkin' Donuts for their daily cup of Joe, while Democrats are more inclined to get their caffeine fix from Starbucks, according to a study released this week by the neuro-insight firm Buyology.
When choosing a car, Democrats were more inclined to favor a rugged and adventurous Jeep while Republicans preferred the luxury and sophistication of BMW, according to the online survey, which used responses timed to the millisecond to determine more than 4,000 respondents' gut reactions toward a brand.
"People will gravitate toward brands that have values that are reflective of who they are or who they want to be," said Vanitha Swaminathan, an associate business administration professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Spokespeople for both BMW, which the study shows is favored by Republicans, and Starbucks, which is favored by Democrats, said their customer's political persuasions are not a factor when deciding how best to advertise to them.
"Politics never enters into our advertising decisions," said Kenn Sparks, a spokesman for BMW of North America, "Our customers are as diverse as our global company and people from every demographic group tell us that BMW is the brand they aspire to own. We're delighted to have them all!"
While most mega brands, like Allstate or Progressive insurance, do not take a stand on political issues, they may make a play for people's emotions in much the same way politicians do, said Swaminathan.
For example Allstate, which was favored by Republicans, has an advertising campaign that centers on fear, telling viewers "Mayhem is everywhere."
The Republican Party uses a similar fear-based tactic, telling voters that four more years of President Obama would be a disaster for the country. Republicans may be attracted to Allstate because both the party and the product build off of a similar emotion, said Buyology CEO Gary Singer.
It is a similar story for fast food restaurants. Subway, where you choose every aspect of your sandwich, was the chain of choice for Republicans, a party whose platform revolves around individual freedom.
Democrats, on the other hand, favored Wendy's, which Singer said can be seen as more democratic because they offer pre-fixed solutions to your hunger. It's as if Wendy's is saying, "We've got these answers and you pick which is best for you," Singer said.
But not all brands divided down party lines.
While Democrats and Republicans disagree on so much, they did agree on Google, Visa, Apple and Coca-cola, the study showed.
"Those are brands that rise above these differences and have deep connections to people in both parties," Singer said.
And the characteristics that make these four brands bipartisan are qualities Singer said could also prove helpful to presidential candidates, who are trying to connect with voters at the same emotional level on which successful brands connect with their customers.
"It's all about leadership," Singer said. "If you have clarity and distinctiveness there really is an opportunity to bring the country together in a powerful and emotional way."