Election Day Is Turning Into A Drinking Holiday

Perhaps because Americans were pre-occupied with getting in their last digs at the enemies with slurs of “Fascist!” and “Communist!”, we didn’t hear this last election a refrain we normally hear from thoughtful citizens on Election Day: “Why is it held on a Tuesday and not a weekend?”

This is a good question. You’d have a higher turn out and more orderly precinct voting. I’ve always agreed that Election Day should be on the weekend. But the real argument I’ve always made is that Election Day should be an American holiday. America is, after all, the birthplace of modern Constitutional Democracy.

Well, it turns out that my desire to holiday-ize Election Day makes sense from another angle: Americans treat it as such—we drink more on Election Day.

According to the local alcohol delivery service Drizly, last Tuesday Americans ordered much more alcohol for delivery than the average Tuesday. In the selection of blue states where Drizly operates, alcohol sales were up more than 75% over the previous four Tuesdays. In the red states where Drizly operates, sales of alcohol were up 33%. In swing states, sales were up 55%.

Wine and spirits accounted for the bulk of the deliveries, each amounting to about 40%. Beer made up about 20% of deliveries.

Over at Vox, writer Melinda Fakaude suggests that it was “election trauma” that led to the increased sales and deliveries of alcohol. No doubt this was a more tension-filled election night than many. But to know if the “election trauma” theory is true, we’d need to know what alcohol sales were like on previous election nights. We don’t have that information. It may just be that, as with other holidays, we drink more on the unofficial “Election Day Holiday”.

One might also be led to speculate that the folks living in blue states apparently drank more since they felt the stakes were higher for them and they needed a bit of help coping. Maybe. But more than likely I think that blue state dwellers just happen to be bigger drinkers than red state drinkers. I’d like to see a comparison between the degree of increased alcohol ordering on Election Day and per capita consumption by state.

In my house, we drank a little extra on Tuesday primarily to celebrate the end of the near 24 months of campaigning. The other good news is that we have at least 24 months before the next presidential campaign begins. That’s definitely cause to celebrate.

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  1. Christian Miller - November 9, 2020

    Tom, as you point out, to know whether the “political trauma” or “election party” theory was true, we’d have to know what sales were like in previous election years. That would be possible via scan data (Nielsen, IRI, or 3×3). But that’s not comparable to Drizly data, which is a smaller subset of retail transactions, with a different skew from Nielsen etc. And Drizly has grown so much that their own data from 2018 or 2016 probably may not comparable either. Plus Covid. All of which is a good reminder for all of us – be very careful about the data sources and other factors when making comparisons with pre-pandemic numbers.

    I think you answered your own question “Why is it held on a Tuesday and not a weekend?” It’s BECAUSE “you’d have a higher turn out and more orderly precinct voting” if it wasn’t a working day. Certainly that was one party’s answer in 2020.

    However, there’s nothing to prevent employers from giving employees a day or half-day off to vote. How about it, American businesses, why don’t you step up and show em how it’s done? Start with the Georgia runoff.


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