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Will policies like Doug Ford’s ‘buck-a-beer’ help brew political support? Unlikely, new poll suggests

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, centre, Vic Fedeli, left, and Todd Smith announce the buck-a-beer plan at Barley Days brewery in Picton, Ont. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

There’s no sign boozy policies like Doug Ford‘s “buck-a-beer” will do anything to help boost support among voters from any particular party.

The reason? Beer just doesn’t seem to be something that divides Canadians along partisan lines, according to a new poll.

READ MORE: ‘Buck-a-beer’ to be available in Ontario beginning Aug. 27

If anything, preference for the beverage appears to unite Canadians across the political spectrum, with 43 per cent of past Conservative and Liberal-voting respondents telling the Angus Reid Institute they preferred beer over wine or spirits.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents who voted NDP in 2015 also said the same, with many indicating a preference for craft beer.

“While seemingly crowd-pleasing liquor policies may be quaffable for all, they may actually do relatively little to brew targeted support among specific segments of the voting population,” said the Angus Reid Institute in its breakdown of the polling results.

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“Evidently, a person would be hard-pressed to decide a Canadian’s political preference based simply on their predilection for a pint or a pinot.”

WATCH BELOW: Doug Ford announces ‘buck-a-beer challenge’ for Ontario brewers

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Doug Ford announces ‘buck a beer challenge’ for Ontario brewers – Aug 7, 2018

The ranking of preferences when it comes to other kinds of alcohol produced perhaps more notable, but not drastic, differences among parties.

Compared to the average Canadian, Liberal-voting respondents were also more likely to prefer wine over other kinds of alcohol.

The same was true with NDP-voting respondents when it comes to whiskey, craft beer and cider.

Conservative-voting respondents were more likely to prefer bottled spirits.

WATCH BELOW: Doug Ford says incentives will convince brewers to lower prices

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford says incentives will convince brewers to lower prices' Doug Ford says incentives will convince brewers to lower prices
Doug Ford says incentives will convince brewers to lower prices – Aug 7, 2018

The takeaway seems to be not that policies targeting booze will lead to a loss of political support.

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Instead, it’s that there’s no indication they do anything to clearly garner it from those with any particular political affiliation.

READ MORE: Doug Ford’s ‘buck-a-beer’ doesn’t mean $1 beer across the board — here’s why

On Aug. 7, the Ontario premier announced he would lower the minimum price of beer to $1 from $1.25 as of Aug. 27.

However, breweries are under no obligation to drop their prices.

Many have come out in recent days saying they can’t afford to do so without jeopardizing quality or laying off employees.

But those that do will get “non-financial incentives” from the provincial government, like better placement in LCBO stores.

WATCH BELOW: Proposed buck-a-beer policy not popular with Ontario craft breweries

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Proposed buck-a-beer policy not popular with Ontario craft breweries – Jun 18, 2018

The poll from Angus Reid did not ask respondents for their opinions on the “buck-a-beer” policy.

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Instead, it gauged preferences for different types of alcoholic beverages among other factors like political affiliation, age, and location.

While the results suggest alcoholic preference did not vary significantly across partisan lines, it did vary substantially between men and women across all age brackets surveyed.

“The demographic elements that determine preference on this issue are significantly more likely to be age and gender than politics,” the results said.

Seventy-four per cent of men between the ages of 18 and 34 preferred beer over wine or spirits, compared to 33 per cent of women of the same age.

READ MORE: Here’s how much it costs to make a can of craft beer

That dropped to 59 per cent of men aged 35 to 54, compared to 30 per cent of women with the same preference.

That preference also held up with 50 per cent of men over the age of 55, compared to 21 per cent of women.

Elections Ontario does not break down voter demographics by sex or by age so it’s not possible at this point to tell whether those preferences align in any way with demographic groups that supported Ford in the recent provincial election.

A spokesperson for Elections Ontario said it was considering publishing some of that information next year.

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“We have not previously published any information regarding voter demographics; however, we are considering the possibility of publishing information about voters’ ages for the 2018 General Election as part of our official results reporting early next year,” a spokesperson for the agency said in email.

A pre-election poll conducted by Pollara for Maclean’s in May suggested Ford had a lock on at least 45 per cent of the decided male vote.

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