OTTAWA - The double double and cruller have it over the latte and biscotti hands down, a new poll suggests.
The survey suggests that fans of the iconic Tim Hortons brand - which has outlets from Kelowna to Kandahar - outnumber Starbucks people 4-1.
And it indicates that Tim Hortons is the great Canadian leveller, whose popularity cuts across political lines and unites old and young, rich and poor.
Stephen Harper was labelled the Tim Hortons prime minister by MacLean's in 2006, but the poll results suggest that the ubiquitous coffee shops - there are about 3,000 in Canada - draw in roughly equal proportions from every political party.
Folklore portrays the average Tim's customer as a pickup-driving Everyman in a flannel shirt and baseball cap who scorns frappucinos, isn't sure what a latte is and embraces hockey and hunting. It's supposedly the place where the average Joe gets his joe.
The poll suggests, though, that the well-off Tory is almost as likely to drop in to Tim's as the blue-collar New Democrat or the downtown Liberal.
Overall, the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found 49 per cent of respondents called themselves Tim Hortons people, as opposed to 12 per cent who preferred the Starbucks label. About 26 per cent chose neither company and 11 per said they didn't drink coffee.
The same rough 50-10 split showed up when Tim's customers were asked about their political preferences.
Among those calling themselves Conservatives, 53 per cent went with Tim Hortons and 10 per cent chose Starbucks. Among Liberals, the divide was 49-13. For the NDP, it was 54-11 in favour of Tim's, the Greens split 50-14 for Tim's and BQ supporters divided 44-12.
Among people under 30, Tim's got 55 per cent support, while 46 per cent of those over 50 also chose Tim's.
Among those earning under $100,000 a year, 51 per cent went with Tim's. Among those making over $100,000, 46 per cent were for Tim's.
The data suggest that no one has a lock on the Tim's crowd.
"Tim Hortons customers are equal-opportunity voters," said Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima senior vice-president.
He said the results suggest that if political parties are aiming for the coffee-shop vote, they'd better concentrate on the Tim's crowd because no one can get elected without a sizable chunk of that vote
"Targeting Starbucks customers will not yield anywhere near the benefit that targeting the Tim's vote promises."
Tim's was most popular in Ontario, with 56 per cent of the respondents. Starbucks had its biggest support in British Columbia, where 25 per cent chose it, against 43 per cent who went for Tim's.
Tim Hortons was the choice of 51 per cent of men and 47 per cent of women across the country.
The poll questioned about 1,000 people in an omnibus telephone survey April 23-May 3 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 per cent 19 times in 20.
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