Donald Trump Is Popular In States Where Fast Food Is Popular
When you are a politician, you can lose an election over what you order for lunch. Scott Walker’s hopes of capturing Pennsylvania in the 2016 Republican primary didn’t survive a PR fiasco over a Philly cheesesteak. Thankfully Obama was already President when he made the gaffe of ordering a hamburger with Dijon mustard because he might have lost votes when right wing media skewered him as "President Poupon."
So when Donald Trump’s campaign brags over his taste for fast food it is part of a long tradition of political pandering. The New York Times reports he would do away with state dinners and just order fast food with foreign leaders. I imagine that’s hyperbolic, but as a billionaire he feels he can rail against Washington elites more effectively over a Big Mac with fries. But this kind of pandering has tragic consequences.
In a country where one in three adults and nearly one in five kids suffer from obesity, promoting fast food is not leadership. Obesity is a cause of many life-threatening conditions including diabetes and America’s number one killer, cardiovascular disease. Michelle Obama used her role model status to promote a healthy eating and exercise regimen for kids. Early signs show obesity rates in pre-school aged children may have dropped as a result of her advocacy.
But Michelle Obama doesn’t have the kind of influence Trump has where it is needed most. In the fourteen states with the most fast food, Trump was ahead in the polls until he bragged about sexual assaulting women on a hot mic. Now he is ahead in twelve of those states.
Looking at Nathan Yau’s illuminating info-graphics next to Nate Silver’s election maps shows that people celebrating Trump’s love of fast food are also more likely to live in communities disproportionately suffering from the obesity epidemic.
The states that lean right in America’s political discourse need better diet role models. If conservative politicians care about helping the communities they seek to represent, they will stop bragging about eating fast food on the campaign trail.