A new survey from the Pew center offers up some excellent stereotype-enforcing research indicating that most Americans would rather live near a McDonald’s than a Starbucks, but highlighting some substantial demographic disagreements. And they’re not just stereotype-confirming along a few dimensions. It’s everywhere you go. The more money you earn, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The more education you have, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The more liberal you are, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The younger you are, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. White people live Starbucks more than black people.
Kay Steiger remarks that this “oughta get the next round of political analysts going.” Indeed, I expect David Brooks to get an entire book out of this.
But as someone who fits firmly into the Starbucks demographic, I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking. At the end of the day, if you want some coffee and there’s a McDonald’s nearby but no Starbucks, you can go to the McDonald’s and get some coffee. It’s not the same range of selection, and I do like Starbucks coffee more, but McDonald’s is a reasonably close substitute. By contrast, there’s no french fries at Starbucks. There’s no burger at Starbucks. No nuggets. No ice cream. And nothing that even vaguely resembles any of that stuff. It’s an assymetrical relationship where McDonald’s can imperfectly substitute for Starbucks but Starbucks can’t substitute for McDonald’s at all. And these days they both have WiFi. But McDonald’s has delicious Diet Coke and other sodas.
Long story short, the yuppies of America need to get real.