Campaigns Run on Dunkin’

Spending records show that even national politicians prefer Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks.

dunkin donuts campaigns

Years into a marketing campaign that features busy moms and construction workers, the political class seems to have bought into the message that Dunkin’ Donuts is the populist choice. It’s now almost entirely predictable that a candidate for office in Massachusetts will show up at an event clutching a cup of the Canton-based chain’s coffee. America runs on Dunkin’, after all.

Though it’s too early to analyze the campaign finances for the ongoing Senate special election, spending disclosures from the 2012 campaign are revealing. Massachusetts campaigns reported spending a total of $15,753.96 at Dunkin’ last year, according to the Lowell Sun. That’s more than 10 times the $1,567.53 they spent on Starbucks. Now, $15,000 isn’t much when you consider the scale of election expenditures these days. But it does buy a lot of coffee.

This 10-to-1 ratio isn’t actually that surprising: There are roughly 10 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in the state for every Starbucks. Across the country as a whole, though, there are far more Starbucks. Yet in the presidential race, Dunkin’ was still the clear winner. President Obama’s team showed a definite preference for Dunkin’, spending $4 there for every $1 spent at Starbucks. Mitt Romney’s campaign, meanwhile, spent $1.46 at Dunkin’ for every $1 at Starbucks. But then, Romney himself doesn’t actually drink coffee.

Spending at either coffee chain wasn’t as pronounced in state-level races outside New England—except in the state of Washington, where Starbucks is based, and where the company came out on top. Even so, with Dunkin’ set to open hundreds of stores in 2013, from Indiana to California, it seems ever more likely that American politicians will, in fact, run on Dunkin’.