WASHINGTON – Some Republican Congress incumbents may not want to be near a Whole Foods grocery store.
Of the 46 districts held by the GOP that are considered vulnerable to Democrats, 63 percent are either in a Whole Foods store or just a 20-minute drive from a Whole Foods store. This comes from an analysis by the US house expert David Wasserman of the impartial Cook Political report.
In previous elections, demographics were largely responsible for the volatile results: soccer mothers helped re-elected President Bill Clinton in 1996, and NASCAR fathers helped re-elected President George W. Bush in 2004. Will the Whole Foods buyer help explain a blue wave? 2018 when it comes?
The presence of a Whole Foods business suggests a concentration of the demographic that is turning away from the GOP in many parts of the country: women with college degrees.
“Suburban Whole Foods are great indicators of where Democrats are gaining strength,” Wasserman said.
All but one of Whole Foods’ 34 Texas locations are in the four largest subway areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. The other store is in El Paso.
Whole Foods shoppers are plentiful in the two districts that host the state’s closest congressional races: the 32nd Congressional District, held by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, contains three Whole Foods stores and the 7th Congressional District, US-held Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, is home to four Whole Foods outlets, a fifth of which is just outside this district. Sessions faces Democrat Colin Allred, and Culberson faces Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. Both Democrats have outperformed the established companies by a wide margin.
The most competitive district in the state in the last election is the 23rd Congressional District in San Antonio, home to a Whole Foods store. US MP Will Hurd, R-Helotes, is seeking a third term against Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones. However, the district has seen close races due to its Hispanic majority population, not necessarily due to a high concentration of suburban women with college degrees who may be leaving the GOP.
The Austin area’s six Whole Foods stores are located in four Republican districts, two of which have been rated competitive by national, impartial quota makers, but Republicans prefer to win.
The 21st Congressional District, which has been drawn as a GOP stronghold and is being retired by longtime US Representative Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, is home to the flagship Whole Foods in downtown Austin, as well as a store in southwest Austin and one in San Antonio. It also spans six Hill Country counties with reliably Conservative voters. The political freshman, military veteran and entrepreneur Joseph Kopser, a Democrat, has made the district “borderline competitive,” Wasserman said of longtime GOP advisor Chip Roy.
Democrat MJ Hegar, a writer and veteran in the 31st Congressional District, which has a whole foods store in Cedar Park, has won national support, surpassing US Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock.
There are two Whole Foods stores in 10th Congressional District, but US Representative Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is not considered vulnerable. The district is dominated by suburbs outside of Houston where Whole Foods does not have a presence, and extends over rural areas between Austin and Houston.
“Given the high prices of whole foods and the epicurean snob vibe, it wouldn’t surprise me that GOP districts focus on areas with large numbers of upper-middle and middle-class Anglo women, many of whom are in the The past voted Republicans, but today they are rejected by Donald Trump and alienated from Kavanaugh by the verification process, “said Mark Jones, professor of political science at Rice University, referring to the controversial Senate debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh .
Not everyone is buying the Whole Foods Effect as an election phenomenon.
Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist and director of the Lone Star Project, a political action committee, said, “This is just silly.”
While recognizing the importance of women in the 2018 election, he said the core of the Democratic Party was African American. “That is the building block of our party,” he said. “This term for whole foods falls into the ‘fair anglos’ category.”
Several calls to corporate headquarters in Austin went unanswered.